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Get Ready For Back To School With Free Events Around The Bay

Nick Amoscato/flickr

The new school year is fast approaching, and many students are still in need of school supplies, school physicals and immunizations. Organizations across the bay area are offering free events that help families meet some of those needs.

These events include backpack and supply giveaways, dental exams, health exams and cooking demos.

Additionally, Florida’s tax-free weekend is August 3-5. State sales tax will be waived on school supplies costing $15 or less and clothing, shoes and accessories $60 or less.


Dates and locations of back to school health fairs for Hillsborough County students can be found here. Free physicals are available to children K-12 and free immunizations to Medicaid or uninsured children K-12. Registration is required for most fairs.

July 28
Back to School Bash 2018: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. The City Of Restoration, 2802 State Road 60 E, Valrico. Backpacks with supplies will be given to elementary, middle and high school students. Admission is free, but registration is required.

August 1
Ready for Success – Back to School: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The Children's Board of Hillsborough County, 1002 East Palm Avenue, Tampa. Geared toward middle and high school students, organizers will be providing attendees with the tools and skills to be successful in the school year. Admission is free.

August 4
Back to School Bash 2018: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. All Hillsborough County K-12 students are invited to receive free school physicals, immunizations, eye exams, school supplies, food and fun. Admission is free.

11th Annual Back to School Fair: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Westshore Plaza Mall, 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa. The first 500 students will receive free backpacks, and six prizes worth $500 each will be awarded to help with other school-related purchases. There will be different local exhibitors, live entertainment, workshops and raffles. Admission is free.

MacDill AFB Back to School Resource and Information Fair: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Hangar 1 MacDill Air Force Base. This event is open only to military members, retirees, DOD civilians and their dependent family members. Base and community programs will be providing information and school supplies. Outside the hangar, families can enjoy bounce houses, art activities and food. 6 Medical Group will be available for physical and immunization information and scheduling. Admission is free.

Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Skills Center, 300 E Sligh Avenue, Building G, Tampa. Ages 5-15 can learn new skills and information applicable to both sports and everyday life. Backpacks will be given away, and there will be live entertainment, games, food and demonstrations. Admission is free, but registration is required.

August 16
Back to School in a Cinch Cooking Demo with Abigail Dougherty: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sprouts Farmers Market, 1523 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Abigail Dougherty, a registered dietician nutritionist, will demonstrate three easy, healthy dinners. Attendees will learn about Sprouts’ grab-and-go dinner options, get free samples, a reusable shopping bag and a Sprouts brand product. Admission is free, and seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.


July 28
Back-to-School Bash: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Veterans Memorial Park, 14333 Hicks Road, Hudson. Raffle tickets will be given to attending students for the school supply giveaway. Twelve raffle tickets will be pulled every 15 minutes, and a minimum of 150 students will receive supplies. Although the school supplies are geared toward ages 5-13, all kids can enjoy inflatables, games, music and door prizes. Admission is free.

Operation Backpack: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Towne Square Mall, 3021 Commercial Way, Spring Hill. Elementary and middle school children can get haircut vouchers, hot dogs, smoothies and play in bounce houses. Adults must be present with a student. Admission is free.

August 5
Back to School Rally: 12 – 5 p.m. New Port Richey SDA Church, 6424 Trouble Creek Rd. Giving away 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies. Child must be present at the event to receive the backpack and supplies.

August 10-11
Back to School Swap: 12 – 4 p.m. August 10 and 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. August 11. New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main St. Swap gently used youth clothing, shoes and accessories. Admission is free.

August 12
Back-to-School Celebration: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 4/One the Gentlemen’s Quarters, 38435 5th Avenue, Zephyrhills. Students will receive free haircuts and a bag of school supplies. Bounce houses, games and contests will also be available. Admission is free.


July 28
Back2School Giveaway: 1 p.m. The Yacht Lounge, 3705 5th Avenue North, Saint Petersburg. Free school supplies, backpacks, food, haircuts and more will be offered at the event. Admission is free.

2018 Florida Military Back to School Bash: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Clearwater YMCA, 1005 S Highland Avenue, Clearwater. This event is open to active, guard and reserve military members and their families. School supplies and backpacks will be given to registered students. See site for registration details.

Junior League of St. Petersburg Back-to-School Care Fair: 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Community Health Centers of Pinellas Park, 1344 22nd Street South. Free medical exams and dental exams and x-rays will be provided. Backpacks and school supplies will be handed out as well.

Back to School Dental Clinic: 7 a.m. Florida Department of Health, 6350 76th Avenue N, Pinellas Park. Students ages four through 18 can receive free dental exams and x-rays at this all-day event.

July 29
Haircuts from the Heart: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. High Point Neighborhood Family Center, 5812 150th Avenue N, Clearwater. Each student enrolled in Pre-K through twelfth grade will receive a free haircut along with backpacks and school supplies. Fun activities and free food will also be available. Admission is free, but participants wanting a haircut must RSVP by calling (727) 533-0730 or emailing info@susfamservices.com.

August 2
Back to School Open House & Expo: 6-8 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 550 Laura Lane, Dunedin. The first 200 children will receive free backpacks filled with school supplies and have the opportunity to engage in activities and games.

August 4
18th Annual Back-to-School Children’s Health and Safety Fair: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 455 Missouri Avenue, Largo. Free school physicals will be offered, as well as school supplies and snacks. Admission is free, but registration is required for school physicals.

Back to School Family Fun Day: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. St. Petersburg College of Health Education Center, 7200 66th Street N, Pinellas Park. This event offers free giveaways of backpacks and school supplies for students, food, entertainment and bike raffles. Admission is free.

August 5
2nd Annual Back 2 School Bash for Special Need Families: 2-4 p.m. 6152 126th Avenue North, Unit 500, Largo. This event caters to children with special needs. Free food and backpacks filled with supplies will be available while supplies last. There will also be adaptive Zumba and sensory activities, raffles and prize giveaways. Admission is free, but registration is required.

August 11
Pinellas PAL Back to School Event: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. PAL Lealman Sports Complex, 3755 46th Avenue N, St Petersburg. Free eye exams will be offered along with backpacks and school supplies. Admission is free, but registration is required.

Free cooking class: Back to School Lunches and Snacks: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Nature's Food Patch Market & Café, 1225 Cleveland Street, Clearwater. Learn simple and healthy lunch box ideas from Dianna, demo specialist of “Demos to ‘Di’ For.” Admission is free.


July 28
Polk State College School Supply Giveaway: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Polk State JD Alexander Center, 152 E Central Avenue. Backpacks and school supplies will be handed out to kindergarteners through college students. There will also be food, music and free haircuts. Admission is free.

Box In Hunger Family Festival: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. PEAK Worship, 315 Granada Street, Lakeland. Volunteers will be handing out 200 food boxes and 300 bags of school supplies. There will be a bounce house, a rock wall, games and more. Admission is free.

Back-to-School Health Fair: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, 40100 US Highway 27, Davenport. This event combines health and safety education with family fun. Police and EMS personnel will do safety presentations and CPR demonstrations. School supplies will be available to students, who can also make crafts, have their faces painted and participate in other activities. Admission is free, and registration is highly recommended.

August 4
Back to School Bash: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Wilfred Smith Resource Center, 135 Avenue Y NE, Winter Haven. Free school supplies will be given to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. 500 backpacks will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Mulberry’s Back to School Bash: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mulberry High School gymnasium, 1 Panther Place, Mulberry. Backpacks will be distributed to registered participants of the event. There will also be bounce houses, hot dogs and other activities. See site for registration details.  

Tyler Spence Back 2 School Bash: 3:15-6:15 p.m. Rotary Park, 350 6th Street NE, Winter Haven. Attendees will receive free backpacks filled with school supplies. Registration is required. See site for registration details.

August 11
Third Annual Unity in the Community Back 2 School Bash: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Lake Eva Banquet Hall, 799 Johns Avenue, Haines City. This free event will supply students with backpacks, food, and haircuts. There will also be bounce houses, face painting and guest speakers. Admission is free.


July 29
Sarasota Back to School Bash: 12-5 p.m. Westfield Sarasota Square Mall, 8201 S Tamiami Trail. Backpacks will be given to the first 250 children. Students can engage in interactive activities and demonstrations and play in designated areas. There will also be meet-and-greets with Tampa Bay mascots, princesses and super heroes. Admission is free.

August 4
Back to School Bash: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Frank G. Berlin YMCA, 1075 S Euclid Avenue, Sarasota. Free school supplies will be handed out to students. There will be games, crafts, food, educational activities and more. See site for registration details.

On the Move Back 2 School: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Booker Middle School, 2250 Myrtle St., Sarasota. Free haircuts, school supplies, physicals, food and more will be offered to students. Admission is free.

Back to School Resource Fair: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Morgan Family Community Center, 6207 W Price Blvd., North Port. Free backpacks, supplies and workshops will be provided. See site for contact and registration information.

Molly Urnek is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2018.
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