Back to School Drive & Distribution Event

Help children experiencing homelessness or economic insecurity get ready for school

We are excited to host our 3rd  annual Back to School Bonanza. The Back to School Bonanza will be held on August 3rd, 2024 at COTS- 95 North Avenue in Burlington, from 12pm-3pm. The rain date is the following Saturday.

The Back to School Bonanza is a free community event where any Vermont students, grades K-12, who are in need can come de-stress and have fun while they pick out school supplies and more.

This year's Back to School Bonanza is going to be so much fun! Get ready for...

  • Bouncy house
  • Haircuts
  • Backpacks
  • Face painting
  • First day of school outfits
  • Lunch and drinks
  • School supplies
  • Snow cones

While supplies last!

Community partners who are joining us: CLiF, Fletcher Free Library, Lund, Sara Holbrook.

Haircuts and concession by Anna Izzo Hair and Emily's Home Cooking.

A huge thank you to our sponsors:

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.

How Can You Help?

We are seeking sponsors for this year's event. For more information, please reach out to our Grant Writer and Foundation Specialist, John Michael Longworth,

We start collecting supplies and fundraising on July 1st!


We need a ton of help putting on this event. From volunteering the day before to volunteering the day of, there are many different ways that you can help. Click the button below to learn more.

Volunteer for Back to School

Run a school supply collection drive at your office, school, church, synagogue, or wherever else.