That crazy back-to-school time doesn’t have to be hectic and stressful for families. In this economy, spending a few hundred bucks getting those kiddos outfitted and set for school puts the pressure on parents. The Hillsborough Education Foundation estimates that 60 percent of students in the Tampa Bay area qualify for free or reduced lunch, and that area parents struggle to send their children to school prepared for the new year. Buckle down and get ready to venture out to snag the best back-to-school opportunities the area has to offer.
Hillsborough County’s first day of school is Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. The first day of school for Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando Counties is Monday, Aug 20.
Remington College Tampa Campus
6302 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33619
Price: free for children 17 and younger
Remington College’s cosmetology department students offer complimentary hair cuts to all children younger than 17 years old in the two weeks prior to the start of the school year. The Cuts for Kids program was instituted in 2009, and since then, these cosmetology pros have provided more than 8,000 free hair cuts to local children. As an added bonus, parents who bring their children to Cuts for Kids also get 50 percent off selected services for themselves, including hair cuts, styling and nails.
1130 E. Bay Drive
Largo, FL 33770
Price: $11 to $18
If you have a young child who gets antsy about hair cuts — or just likes to have fun — Kids Clips is an ideal choice. No boring chairs here, your child can fly a jet, ride a horse or even sit in your lap while the stylist trims away. Toys keep your child occupied while waiting for his appointment, and a television is set up to play children’s shows all day. Your little one even gets a treat on the way out.
Back to School Sports Physicals
MedExpress Urgent Care
13210 N. Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33647
If you have a child who is in middle or high school and plans to try out for a school sports team, chances are that a sports physical is required. MedExpress is a full-service walk-in clinic staffed by a complete medical team that can quickly meet your child’s needs at this hectic time of year. No appointment and no insurance are necessary. For just $20, MedExpress will perform a complete sports physical on-site, taking the stress out of scheduling, at least for one day this year.
Once Upon a Child
4583 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609
Once Upon a Child is the largest children’s resale franchise in the Tampa Bay area. Gently used clothing, toys and equipment are bought and sold throughout the year, but during back-to-school shopping weeks, coupons for 15 percent off may be printed from the Once Upon a Child website and brought to a local store. To get the most bang for your buck, bring in your child’s freshly laundered, like-new clothes to sell or trade for new clothes for the coming school year.
13124 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Tampa, FL 33611
If you’ve got a teenager, Plato’s Closet is the way to go. Plato’s works the same way Once Upon a Child does, in that it deals in gently used clothing and accessories. However, only brand name items may be bought and sold here. Plato’s typically accepts styles that have been in retail stores within the past 12 to 18 months, so you can be sure your teen will go back to school in style, and for up to 70 percent less than you would spend in a shopping mall. Plato’s usually stocks girls’ sizes 0/1 to 15/16 and boys’ waist sizes 28 to 40.
AOE Supply Incorporated
12908 N. 56th St.
Tampa, FL 33617
AOE isn’t just about stocking up on materials for art class. This supply store is the perfect headquarters for kids, teachers and home-school parents who want to be prepared for anything. All of the usual goodies, including pencils, pens, colored pencils, markers and the like, can be found in abundance at AOE, in addition to paints, chalks, easels and sketchpads to inspire young artists. Maps, bulletin board decorations, flash cards, incentive charts and even educational games are available for teachers and home-school parents to help make learning fun as well.
Outreach Assisting Students in Schools
16057 Tampa Palms Blvd. #315
Tampa, FL 33647
OASIS is a grassroots organization that is made possible through a partnership with a host of volunteers and social workers in Hillsborough County. This non-profit organization has been serving underprivileged children since 2001 and provides basic necessities to students in Hillsborough public schools. Students who qualify (based on the recommendation of school social workers) will receive free school supplies, including a backpack, paper, pencils, crayons, age-appropriate children’s or young-adult books, and even school uniforms. OASIS also supplies new or gently used clothes, personal grooming items, and household items such as towels.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.