back-to-school_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE – As the summer break nears its conclusion for South Florida students ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade, thousands of families throughout South Florida are prepping for the new school year beginning Aug. 19 in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

For many in the region, this time of the year signals the beginning of the back-to school-shopping season. This year the state of Florida again provided a sales tax holiday, last weekend Aug. 2 – 4, during which no sales taxes were collected on select school items.

Local governments, churches and other organizations throughout South Florida also are providing support for students and families during the back-to school-season. That includes these Back to School Best Bets:

Thursday, Aug. 8

Children’s Home Society Drive — The Children’s Home Society of Florida is hosting a Back to School Drive from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Bimini Boatyard Bar and Grill, 1555 S.E. 17th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Donations of backpacks filled with school supplies will be collected. Donations of gift cards are also accepted. The Children’s Home Society of Florida provides assistance to children who have been neglected and/or abused. Call 954-763-6573.

Saturday Aug. 10

Back to School Fun Day and Fair — Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson is inviting all District 3 residents, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Olinda Park, 2101 N.W. 51 St., Miami, offering families free backpacks with supplies for school-age children on a first-come, first-served basis. Children can also receive free immunizations with a parent or legal guardian’s permission and vaccination records. Parents and adults can undergo free health check-ups for glucose, high blood pressure, HIV and others. The South Florida Workforce mobile unit will offer information about jobs, training opportunities and career advancement assistance. Miami-Dade County departments such as the Community Action and Human Services mobile unit, will provide information on social services, water and sewer, library resources and others. Call 305-636-2331.

Sheriff’s back-to-school fair — Free, noon – 4 p.m. at Westside Park, 445 S.W. Second St., Deerfield Beach. Join Sheriff Scott Israel and community leaders for a day of fun, education and other services. Organizers say K-12 students will receive a free backpack filled with supplies while supplies last; also free health screenings; enjoy tours of the  SWAT truck, mounted patrol, fire trucks and helicopter; as well as a scholastic book fair. Call 954-422-5818.

Worldwide Christian Center Church — The 2013 Back to School Health Fair is set for 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the church, 450 N. Powerline Rd., Pompano Beach, the Rev. O’Neal Dozier, senior pastor. Event offerings include blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, health awareness, free school supplies on a first-come, first-served basis, free food and games and more. Call 954-978-2020.

Tondreau Back to School Bash — Mayor Lucie Tondreau continues the tradition of hosting the event where food, refreshments and backpack giveaways will be available on a limited first-come, first-served basis to children accompanied by an adult with photo ID proof of North Miami residency. In addition to free non-invasive dental screenings and blood drive, agencies and organizations such as the Russell Life Skills & Reading Foundation, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Cuban-Haitian Refugee Program, Division of Blind Services, Magellan Behavioral Health of Florida and Berkshire Manor will be onsite to distribute information about their services and programs.Call 305-895-9815.

GWEN CHERRY PARK FESTIVAL — The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department in conjunction with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime and Urban Strategies will host from 12 noon – 9 p.m. at the park, 7090 N.W. 22nd Ave., Miami, with many activities for kids to enjoy including music, line-dancing, popcorn, snow cones, a dunk tank and a bounce house. There will be enrollment opportunities for Miami-Dade County Parks’ “Fit2Play: Health, Wellness and Obesity Prevention” After-School and Out-of-School Program, as well as special events.

Roger Dean/Abacoa Center events — Family focus on fun in education, safety, nutrition & fitness,1 – 5 p.m., including free lunchbox while supplies last, at Abacoa Town Center, 1200 Town Center Dr., Jupiter. Email Also Fort Myers Miracle vs. Jupiter Hammerheads baseball at Roger Dean Stadium, 4751 Main St. First 500 kids 15 and under through gates receive a backpack, with vendors in concourse giving away back-to-school supplies to fill backpacks. Gates open 5:30 p.m.; game at 6:35 p.m. Adults $8.50, children (3 – 12), seniors (55 and above) $6.50. Call 561-775-1818 or visit

N. Miami Parks and Recreation — The city of North Miami Parks and Recreation is hosting the Back to School Bash and Health Fair, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Joe Celestin Center, 1525 N.W. 135th St. The fair provides health screenings and information on health and social issues, and includes food and entertainment. Call 305-895-9840.

Monday, Aug. 12

iCenter Back to School event — The iCenter  Community Foundation, Inc.’s Back to School event, set for 2 – 5 p.m. at 315 Pembroke Rd., Hallandale Beach, will feature bookbags and supplies, free food, entertainment, free haircuts and more, first come, first served. Call 954-456-7775.

Wednesday, Aug. 14

Everglades Health and Safety Fair — Everything is free and includes a bounce house, face painting, health screenings, health information and giveaways, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Everglades Housing, 19308 S.W. 380 St. Florida City. Call 305-450-2702 or 305-252-4854.

Thursday, Aug. 15

Back-to-School Giveaway — The Progressive Firefighters Association Charities Inc. will hold a school bookbag giveaway, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Joseph Caleb Center, Rm 110, in conjunction with the Progressive Officer Club, Florida Coalition of Black State Troopers, Beauty School of America, 99 Jamz, Hot 105 and state Rep. Cynthia Stafford. The first 1,000 kids accompanied by an adult will receive back-to-school supplies. Beauty School of America will provide limited haircuts and manicures. Call 305-688-FIRE (3473).

Friday, Aug. 16

Health and Wellness Open House — Allamanda Elementary and the Palm Beach Gardens Green Market kick off the school year 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. with select vendors featuring fresh fruits and vegetables to get a healthy start in educating the whole child and meet the teacher in one convenient stop. Call 561-803-7243 or email

Saturday, Aug. 17

Health Fair 2013 — Redemptive Life Fellowship, Harold and Brenda Ray, pastors, presents free back-to-school physicals, immunizations, health education, health screenings and more. Bring your shot records, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the church, 2101 N. Australian Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-632-0666.

Southland Mall Health Fair — Everything is free and includes face painting, a magic show, Burnie from the Miami Heat, Mariachi Band, Paramount Dancers, belly dancers, backpacks, health screenings and information for the entire family, 12 – 4 p.m., Southland Mall, 20505 South Dixie Hwy, Cutler Bay. Call 305-450-2702 or 305-252-4854.

Flamingo Gardens School Bash — The Children’s Home Society of Florida is teaming with Flamingo Gardens to present the 3rd Annual Back 2 School Bash from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, 3750 S. Flamingo Road. Flamingo Gardens will provide visitors half price on admission. Food, merchandise, vendor fees and sponsorships of the event go directly to buy bookbags and school supplies for children of The Children’s Home Society of Florida. Call 954-763-6573.

Health Fair/Back to School Bash — From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at St. John Primitive Baptist Church, 615 N.W. First St., Delray Beach Florida., Elder Kenneth D. Duke, pastor. Will feature health screenings, bounce houses, haircuts, food, school supplies plus games and activities.  Everything is free. Call 561-278- 2084.

Sunday, Aug. 18

GROOMING GENTS II — The second annual event will give some of Miami’s at-risk children a fresh start on the new school year with free haircuts and an opportunity to interact with South Florida professionals, to instill a sense of self-pride and encourage better conduct and grades, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. at William H. Turner Technical Arts Adult & Community Education School, 10151 N.W. 19th Ave., Miami. Hosted by Casting Couch Productions, LLC in conjunction with The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre and the Gentlemen’s Acquisition. Call 786-777-8480.