Short on supplies? Get help with back-to-school needs

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CULLMAN, Ala. – As the new school year approaches, many families around Cullman County will be struggling to provide school necessities for their children. These necessities may be school supplies like binders, backpacks, calculators, paper and writing utensils, or they may be more basic necessities like clothing or food. Fortunately, Cullman County has no shortage of generosity, and there are several organizations available to help families send their children back to school with enough supplies, proper clothes and food for weekends and school holidays.

Curt’s Closet: Curt’s Closet is a nonprofit organization that helps families in need “shop” for clothing, shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes and even prom dresses for free. The shop provides help to families facing financial hardships, military service, serious illness or injury and property damage or destruction. It also helps foster families and others in need.

1515 St. Joseph St. NW, Cullman

Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. the first Saturday of each month





Victoria’s Hope Thrift and Treasures: Victoria’s Hope is a nonprofit organization that opened a new thrift shop in early July. The store – which sells clothing, furniture, shoes, backpacks, sports equipment like helmets and cleats, books and DVDs – features retail sales to the public, but is still open free of charge to those in need. Proceeds from sales go to other charities or back into VH, which uses the money to help families in need and plans to help pay off student debts in the future (as unpaid school debts can prevent students from graduating). Clients can schedule appointments for vouchers based on family size and income.

1430 Fourth St. SW, Cullman

Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

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Karma in Cullman: Karma in Cullman serves low-income families around Cullman County all year with food assistance programs, monthly “yard sales” where visitors bring non-perishable food items in exchange for a bag they can fill with clothes and toys, a Christmas program to help children have a truly happy holiday and a back-to-school program that provides children with school supplies and five outfits. The back-to-school program requires prior sign-up with proof of income, photo ID, Social Security cards for all children receiving assistance and the necessary school supply lists. Sign-ups for the 2019 Back-to School-Program have ended, but Karma in Cullman will open its program to the community Aug. 3. Families that signed up will take priority, but anyone can pay $5 to receive supplies, a backpack, shoes and five outfits while supplies last. This will only be for children up to 12th grade and there is a limit of five outfits per child. 

785 Alabama Highway 157, Cullman, 35058

Open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

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United Way of Cullman County: UWCC is finishing its second annual “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive. Supplies donated to the drive will be distributed to Cullman City and County schools, and school faculty members will be responsible for giving the supplies to students who need them. UWCC encourages families in need to get in contact with their school’s guidance counselor to ensure they receive the supplies their kids need.

309 First Ave. NE, Cullman

Open 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

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Parkside Outreach Program Thrift Store: POP serves the Baileyton community and the Parkside school district with a thrift store and food pantry. The store sells items like clothing, shoes and household essentials, and visitors who need the food pantry can fill out a short application for qualification. One employee, Debbie Pierce Humphries, is trained to assist people with food stamp (SNAP) applications and may be able to help applicants receive additional benefits of which they are unaware. The food pantry is only open on the first Saturday of each month.

12756 Alabama Highway 69, Baileyton

Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays

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St. Vincent de Paul: The Cullman chapter of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is based in Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. The Society assists families in need with food, winter coats and some utility bills (when funds allow) on a confidential basis.

205 Third Ave. SE, Cullman

Open 9-11:45 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays




The Carpenter’s Cabinet: The Carpenter’s Cabinet is a faith-based nonprofit organization with two food pantries established in Cullman County, one in Holly Pond and one in Colony. Both locations require applications to determine eligibility according to the rules of the Food Bank of North Alabama, as well as photo ID, proof of residence in the service area and proof of income. Applications can be picked up at these locations.

Holly Pond location

60 Finley Circle, Holly Pond 35083

Open first and third Thursdays of each month 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

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Colony Location

65 Byars Road, Hanceville

Open first and third Wednesdays of each month 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

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Cullman Caring for Kids: The CCK Food Bank serves an average of eight tons of food to eligible families around Cullman County each month, as well as other necessities like baby food, wipes, diapers and school supplies. A list of required paperwork and holiday closings is provided on the website; paperwork is not due until the second visit.

402 Arnold St. NE Suite W-1, Cullman

Open 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and 9 a.m.-noon Thursdays

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Secret Meals for Hungry Children: Alabama Credit Union sponsors Secret Meals for Hungry Children, which helps ensure that no student goes hungry over the weekends. Teachers and school counselors work together, sometimes with social workers, to identify students who may be hoarding food on Fridays or coming in hungry on Mondays, then school faculty members request a certain number of meal packs each week (containing two breakfasts, two lunches and two snacks) to discreetly send home with the students for the weekend. Parents and students are encouraged to talk to their teachers or guidance counselors to receive these meal packs.

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Heather Mann