Back-to-School Clothing Drive Celebrates 50 years of service

Estimated 531,000 students served!

By Bette and Ed Sharpe – Glendale Daily Planet

Back-to-School Clothing Drive (BTSCD) has helped to break down barriers to early childhood school success by providing new school uniforms and outfits, backpacks and school supplies to k-6 grade children in need, statewide. These children are from hard working families, but are living at or below the poverty line, and attend one of over 260 partnering Title 1 elementary schools in in Maricopa County and Northern Arizona.

Our Beginning

“In 1967 the Salt River flooded, washing out many of the migrant camps located along the river bank. A group of women supported by “The Order of True Sisters” and other Phoenix agencies banded together to raise money to supply back-to-school clothes for the children of the migrant families. Founders Lucy Allen and Selma Shefler raised enough resources in the first year to provide 871 children with clothing, establishing Back-to-School Clothing Drive.

Almost 50 years later, Back-to-School Clothing Drive still strives to provide for students from Phoenix and the surrounding areas.” (Source:

The fall session for most schools in Arizona start in late July through mid-August. Back-to-School Clothing Drive host is clothing distribution event, New Clothes New Beginnings” in July, usually during the third week. A warm time to be thinking about school. Thousands of students receive new uniforms and outfits consisting of two shorts or skirts, two polo shirts, three pairs of socks and underwear, a belt, a sweatshirt, a pair of sneakers, a hand sewn outfit from Stitches of Love volunteer seamstresses, new books and a backpack filled with school supplies and hygiene items, at over $300 per child. The New Clothes, New Beginnings annual distribution event is presented in collaboration with the BHHS (Baptist Hospital and Health System) Legacy Connection’s Backpack Buddies Program.

The weeklong event on of 2,500 volunteers is paired with a child to help them get sized, choose the right clothes, and pick out a fun accessory or two. The last couple of years the distribution has taken place at Grand Canyon University. The sports arena is transformed into a guided shopping adventure for the young students. The air conditioning is greatly appreciated by all. It can be hot and humid in July in Arizona.

Uniforms are mandatory at many schools. Without a uniform, children cannot attend school and will face attendance issues. Student Attire for Education (SAFE) Program helps TITLE 1 Schools in Maricopa County help their student by providing a matching grant to supplement their funds which can spend in the BTSCD online retail store for uniforms for children who may otherwise go to school inappropriately dressed.

Stitches-of-Love has created fun and unique clothes for children since its inception in 1967. Four hundred plus volunteers sew, crochet and knit more than 33,000 items annually to give to children during the annual distribution event.

Highlights from 2016: $100 dresses one child with two polo shirts, two shorts, three pairs of socks, and three pairs of underwear, backpack filled with school supplies, shoes and hygiene items.


The 2016 Year Impact – By The Numbers
25,000 students served.

2,000,000 Value of clothing and school supplies distributed.

$345,000 Value of volunteer hours.


Back-to-School Clothing Drive, in it’s lifetime, has served an estimated 531,000 students and this year is celebrating 50 years of service. The nonprofit organization has helped to break down barriers to early childhood school success by providing new school uniforms and outfits, backpacks and school supplies to children in need.