Back to School Drive

Help Children Experiencing Homelessness in Vermont Get Ready for School

In Vermont, around 1 in 4 people experiencing homelessness are children. This is a total of 1006 students experiencing homelessness in Vermont public schools, around 160 of which are in Chittenden County (US Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2020/21 SY). That is nearly 4 school buses full of children. It is enough children to fill 8 Vermont classrooms and 13 school basketball teams. One homeless child is a tragedy, 160 is a crisis.

This staggering fact is exactly why COTS started the Back to School Drive. The #172VT campaign was launched in 2015 to bring awareness around the 172 children experiencing homelessness in Chittenden County at the time. Each year, the community helps us fill hundreds of backpacks with thousands of school supplies. We then distribute them to families in shelters, motels, and to our nonprofit partners in the community who directly serve children.

The 2022 Back to School Drive kicked off with the Lake Monsters game on July 1st, where we collected our first drive donations. We held our first-ever in-person Back to School community event, the Back to School Bonanza. The event was open to any school-aged children in need of supplies or services and included snacks, music, back-to-school haircuts, first-day-of-school outfits, and more. The event was a massive success – thanks so much to everyone who donated, volunteered, and came out to support!

The 2nd Annual Back to School Bonanza took place on August 5th. We raised $14,700 and received countless donations of supplies, which all went directly to providing Back to School supplies for students in need. Thank you to the 70 volunteers who provided 285 volunteer hours to make this event happen. We served 355 students in attendance at the Bonanza, as well as hundreds more through the distribution of supplies in the community.

Save the date for August 3rd, 2024!

How Can You Help?

We are no longer accepting donations for the Back to School Drive. If you would still like to contribute to COTS, you can donate or purchase items from our Amazon Wishlist.

Donate Online

COTS Amazon Wishlist


Check back in Summer 2024 for Back to School Drive volunteer opportunities!

Volunteer Opportunities