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What to know about the school sales tax holiday, supply giveaways and drives in South Florida

Backpacks line a hallway at 1 World Learning Center preschool in Miami-Dade County on Apr. 25, 2022.
Tom Hudson
Backpacks line a hallway at 1 World Learning Center preschool in Miami-Dade County on Apr. 25, 2022.

*This story was updated on Friday, Aug. 4 at 2:56 p.m.

Florida families can save on school supplies this year through the sales tax holiday. Starting on Monday, July 24, through Sunday, Aug. 6, certain items are tax exempt.

A second back-to-school sales tax holiday will also take place on Jan. 1, 2024 through Jan. 14, 2023.

Many local organizations take part in school supply drives and giveaways to help students gear up for the upcoming school year. James Knapp, Chief Operating Officer with the Broward Education Foundation, said last year's drive helped more than 130,000 students in 195 schools.

That’s the most number of students it has helped, ever.

“Sometimes for some families, it is as dire as keeping the lights on, which we know right now, with the heat … what those bills are like and those costs start to skyrocket,” Knapp said.

The Broward Education Foundation’s back-to-school drive has been a yearly effort since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but Knapp said it wasn’t until 2020 that it realized how much need there was.

“We started to really feel the effects of pandemic mode,” he said. “Now, moving into what it really looks like with inflation and the issues with affordability in our local community, as we all know, those are some issues that everybody’s dealing with.”

During the sales tax holiday period, tax is not due on the retail sale of the following items:

  • Clothing, footwear, and certain accessories with a sales price of $100 or less per item.
  • Certain school supplies with a sales price of $50 or less per item.
  • Learning aids and jigsaw puzzles with a sales price of $30 or less. 
  • Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories with a sales price of $1,500 or less, when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.

The sales tax holiday does not apply to:

  • Any item of clothing with a sales price of more than $100.
  • Any school supply item with a sales price of more than $50.
  • Books that are not otherwise exempt.
  • Computers and computer-related accessories with a sales price of more than $1,500.
  • Computers and computer-related accessories purchased for commercial purposes.
  • Rentals of any eligible item.
  • Repairs or alterations of any eligible items.
  • Sales of any eligible items within a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport.

For more information and a list of qualifying items, please review the Department of Revenue's 2023 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday Tax Information Publication (TIP)as well as their Frequently Asked Questions for consumers and businesses.

Below, WLRN has compiled a list of organizations collecting items for school supply drives and places hosting giveaways.

School supply giveaways

Eagle's Haven Back to School Supply pick-up. Families can stop by and get a backpack filled with school supplies. Pizza will also be provided.
WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 16, 5 p.m.
WHERE: Eagles' Haven Wellness Center, 5655 Coral Ridge Dr, Coral Springs, FL 33076

Discovering Design Free Family Day: End-of-Summer Bash The Wolfsonian at FIU is hosting an afternoon of activities including food, music and crafting to create one-of-a-kind backpack accessories. The first 100 students on site will receive a backpack filled with school supplies courtesy of The Children's Trust.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 5, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Historic Hampton House at 4240 NW 27th Ave.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami is hosting a back-to-school drive where attendees can receive school supplies, uniforms, haircuts eye exams, EKG screenings and books. Ahead of the event, the nonprofit is collecting school supplies for students through Aug. 4. You can donate items through the group's Amazon wish list here.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 12, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
WHERE: 550 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, FL 33126

Miami-Dade County School Board Chair Mari Tere Rojas and Miami Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins (District 5), along with community leaders and local community partners, invite students and families to receive backpacks and supplies for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. Supplies will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 5, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
WHERE: Silver Bluff Elementary School, 2609 SW 25th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33133

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board Member Mary Blanco is holding a Back to School Bookbag and Supplies Drive. Blanco and local community partners invite District 7 students and families to collect a free bookbag filled with necessary supplies for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. Bookbags are available until supplies last and one bookbag is permitted per child. Children must be present with an adult.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 5, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., while supplies last
WHERE: William Lehman Elementary, 10990 SW 113 Place, Miami, FL 33176

The Children’s Trust Family Expo. Free backpacks and school supplies will be available. Ride-share vouchers are available to families near Kendall, Overtown and Miami Gardens. For more information, you can visit The Children’s Trust website here.

North Family Expo
Saturday, Aug 5, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Florida Memorial University
15800 NW 42nd Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33054

West Palm Beach: Pleasant City Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and community partners will give away free backpacks filled with school supplies
WHEN:  Saturday, Aug 5, 3 p.m. to  6 p.m.
WHERE: 1915 Spruce Ave, West Palm Beach, FL

School supply drives

Dadeland Mall and Voices of Children are hosting a back-to-school drive where they are asking residents to donate school supplies, clothing, shoes, personal care items and more for foster children. You can drop off your donations at the Coach store located near Center Court. They are accepting donations through July 31.

Unity Church of Delray Beach is collecting backpacks and school supplies for local children in need. Items may be brought in for donation on Sundays between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. through Aug. 3. They are to be placed in the baskets in the bookstore lobby at the south entrance to the church. Or come to the church office on the west side of the building during business hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, except 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., when the office is closed.
The church is located at 101 NW 22nd Street at Swinton Avenue in Delray Beach.
For more info, please call the church office at 561-276-5796. Or email unitychurch@unityschool.com.

Broward Education Foundation is holding its annual School Supply Drive, looking for items or monetary donations to help under-resourced children in Title I schools in Broward County. Donors can either drop off items at the Foundation's School Supply Center between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., located at 2300 West Copans Road, Bay #5, Pompano Beach, FL 33069, or can arrange for them to be picked up.
Those interested in hosting a supply drive for the campaign can call the center at 754-321-9020 or email mari-lee.baxter@browardschools.com.

The Kristi House Back to School Drive accepts monetary donations, gift cards and new school supplies for all ages. Drop off supplies and gift cards Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., at 1265 NW 12th Avenue, Miami, FL 33136.
For more details, including how to host a drive, go to their website.

Alyssa Ramos is the multimedia producer for Morning Edition for WLRN. She produces regional stories for newscasts and manages digital content on WLRN.
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