It’s ‘roundup’ time for students needing back-to-school supplies

Posted Friday, Jul. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Getting ready for back-to-school can be one of the most anxious and exciting times for children and their parents as summer recess draws to a close and students prepare to begin another chapter of their education.

For low-income families, the to-do list alone — acquiring supplies, buying new clothes, arranging for immunizations and checking new bus schedules — sometimes is a bit overwhelming for already strained budgets.

To help relieve some of the pressure, by reducing some of the costs and the worry of getting ready for school, the Tarrant County Back to School Roundup for the past eight years has provided free school supplies for prekindergarten to high school students whose families’ incomes fall below the federal poverty level.

The ninth annual event, expected to attract 10,000, has been set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 7 at Will Rogers Memorial Center’s Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall.

Free parking with free shuttle service is provided at Farrington Field, and the T will offer free bus service for participants. Parking at the center will be $5.

In addition to school supplies and backpacks, the roundup will provide free haircuts and health screenings, as well as free immunizations for up to 200 people.

But there is one major key to qualify, which means adults will be required to do some homework. To be eligible, parents must register in advance and have proof of income.

Families that qualify for Medicaid, school free lunch, unemployment or food stamps automatically qualify, but there are other ways to prove income.

Beginning Monday, there will be 12 remaining registration events around the county where people can get vouchers to attend the event. Applicants for the vouchers also must provide proof that they are Tarrant County residents.

For other details on registering, the kind of ID needed and acceptable proof of income and residence, go to www.backtoschoolroundup.org.

This community effort is a partnership between Tarrant County, the city of Fort Worth, 20 school districts, the public health department, corporations, non-profit organizations and volunteers.

But it works best when the disadvantaged families follow the rules and pre-register. They would not be allowed in without a voucher.

Sales tax holiday

To help ease the burden of parents who have to buy supplies and clothing for kids going back to school, the state of Texas since 1999 has set three days in August as a sales tax holiday weekend.

This year the tax-free weekend will be Aug. 9-11, a period when shoppers should be able to save about 8 percent on items such as school supplies, backpacks, footwear and clothing priced under $100.

Overall, Texans are expected to save more than $74 million in local and state sales taxes, according to estimates by State Comptroller Susan Combs.

Residents should note that most athletic apparel and equipment and accessories like jewelry, purses, watches and briefcases are not exempt.

The annual “holiday,” which many parents look forward to and plan for, has come to signal “back-to-school” as much as Labor Day did when most districts started classes in September. Now most Texas school children go back to school in August.

Over the three days, retailers expect a rise in sales from shoppers eager to take advantage of not having to pay taxes on certain products.

Still there are many other individuals who wouldn’t dare go shopping during that weekend, preferring instead to wait on store sales when the buying experience is less hectic.

To each his own on that, but the start of school waits for no one.

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