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Grant's Back to School Free Store

July is coming and going quickly, and the school year is just around the corner. In just over five weeks, Des Moines Refugee Support will be hosting their Back to School Free Store, an annual event that aims to assist families in the Des Moines area in preparing for the upcoming school year.

This year is special for the event, as it will be held in honor of a incredible young boy named Grant Christianson, who tragically passed away in May. Grant was an avid volunteer who understood the importance of diversity and inclusion in our community from a very young age. Though he may be gone, his impact continues to inspire us. Join us at Grant's Back to School Free Store as we pay tribute to his short but impactful life.

There are many ways you can be involved this year, from donating items to volunteering to helping provide professional services. Below are more event details so you can be a part of this special event and help our community’s families prepare for the school year coming just around the corner:

The Back to School Free Store will take place on Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12 at Drake's Olmsted Center, located at 2875 University Ave, Des Moines. Set up for the event will begin on Friday at 3 pm, and any donations may be dropped off between 4 pm and 6 pm on Friday.

On Saturday, families will begin picking up their shopping tickets between 7 am and 10 am. Shopping will begin at 10 am and wrap up by 2 pm. Clean up will conclude the event.


If you are interested in bringing donations, please check the list of accepted items here, and then sign up here for what you plan to bring. You can also check out the Amazon Wishlist or the Walmart Wishlist and provide donations this way. Make sure you ship to Des Moines Refugee Support ℅ Alison Hoeman.

If you are an organization, club, group, church, or business that would like to help raise donations, you can partner with the store to host a donation drive. Simply ask your community to donate specified items, and then bring them to donation drop-off on Friday, August 11! Here is a flier that you can use to promote your drive. Also ensure you sign up for what items you will be bringing here.


The wonderful volunteers that show up and do the hard work are the backbone of these events! There are many ways you can volunteer on both Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12. They are looking for about 200 volunteers, so if you are available, consider volunteering your time. If you speak Swahili, Pashto, Dari, Burmese, Karen, Karenni, Spanish or Arabic, your services as an interpreter are much needed. The sign up for all volunteers is here.

Professional Services

The Back to School Free Store will also be offering a handful of professional services, including sports physicals, dental check-ups, haircuts, and eye exams. Currently, they are looking for dentists, nurses, and barbers/hair-stylists to help provide these services. If you or someone you know has these skills, please email

Partner Organizations

Do you have an organization that provides items or services that may be useful to the families attending this event? If you’d like to have a booth at the Free Store, reach out to

Finally, if you know any families that could benefit from the items and services at the Back to School Free Store, send along the information listed in this blog, or share this flier that is here.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get families in our community ready for the upcoming school year and start of the year on the right foot!

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