2019 Back-to-School Events and Supply Drives

It may be hard to believe, but the end of summer is nearing. Celebrate the end of the break and prepare for the new school year with our guide of 2019 back-to-school bashes and donation drives in Polk County.


Upcoming Dates

Tax-free holiday: August 2-6
Student orientation: Thursday, August 8
First day of school for students: Monday, August 12


Back to School First Friday
When: Friday, August 2, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Where: Downtown Lakeland
What: Join the Downtown Lakeland Partnership and MidFlorida Credit Union as well as community vendors in celebrating the start of a new school year with school-themed activities. First Friday features free family-friendly entertainment, activities, live music, art receptions, a car show, and the opportunity to check out a great, locally-owned restaurant or retail establishment on the first Friday of each month.
Contact: info@downtownlakelandfl.com
Taco Bus Backpack Giveaway
When: Friday, August 2, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.
Where: Taco Bus Lakeland, 126 S. Kentucky Blvd., Lakeland
What: Join Taco Bus between 7-10 p.m. for 99 cent tacos and a backpack giveaway! They have over 350+ backpacks in all colors. 1 is available per child who must be present to receive it.
Contact: 863-816-5407
2nd Annual Backpack Giveaway
When: Saturday, August 3, 9-11 a.m.
Where: Larry R Jackson Library, 1700 N Florida Ave., Lakeland
What: Class of the Millennium Presents this giveaway event. Kids must be present to recieve a backpack, and first come, first served while supplies lasts.
Back to School Bash
When: Saturday, August 3, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Where: Wilfred Smith Resource Center, 135 Avenue Y N.E., Winter Haven
What: Join Polk County Parks & Recreation for this free family event featuring free school supplies for children entering kindergarten through fifth grade (first come, first served). Families will also enjoy music, arts & crafts, prizes, educational exhibitors and children activities. Parent and child must be present to receive school supplies.
Contact: 863-298-7898
Back to School Bash and Barbecue
When: Saturday, August 3, 12-4 p.m.
Where: Imperial Lakes Keller Williams Office, 5950 Imperial Lakes Boulevard, Mulberry
What: This is a community event offering prizes, raffles, games and plates of barbeque for a $3 donation to help those in need of school supplies and Polk County Schools.
Contact: 863-934-6134
Back to School Supplies Giveaway
When: Saturday, August 3, 12-4 p.m.
Where: Frostproof Care Center, 17 South Scenic Hwy
What: Frostproof students may stop into the Frostproof Care Center for free school supplies while supplies last, first come first served.
Contact: 863-635-5555
Blast Off Bartow Back to School Bash
When: Saturday, August 3, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Carver Recreation Center, 520 South Idlewood Avenue, Bartow
What: Student attendees Pre-K to 12th grade will be able to leave with free school supplies and information for the upcoming school year. There will be vendors offering food, free haircuts, backpacks, free health screenings, books, free clothes, shoes and more. Please register ahead of time as supplies will be first come, first served.
Blast Off Bartow Back to School Fiesta
When: Saturday, August 3, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Lake Alfred Public Library, 245 N. Seminole Avenue, Lake Alfred
What: Celebrate with the Lake Alfred Public Library at the Back to School Fiesta, free for all ages. Enjoy face-painting, refreshments, cookie-decorating, music, games, backpack raffle, and a school supply giveaway.
Contact: 863-291-5378
End of Summer Back to School Block Party
When: Saturday, August 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Ultimate Dance Center lot, 2980 Lakeland Highlands Road, Lakeland
What: Celebrate the end of summer and kick off another fresh school year with Ultimate Dance Center and M&M Backyard Adventures for a free day of fun with food and drink specials by Jade Fox, China 1 and Buddha’s Pub plus shaved ice and ice cream from Tikiz of Polk County and Tampa. They’ll be moonbounces, giant Legos, dancing, a live DJ, games, and more. OPEN to the public.
Contact: 863-644-5275
Lake Eva Back to School Bash
When: Saturday, August 3, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Lake Eva Banquet Hall, 799 Johns Ave., Haines City
What: This free community event is a great opportunity for parents and their children to receive needed school supplies. The bash will include: free backpacks, haircuts and food as well as access to the water park and entertainment. Register in advance online at www.uicpolk.org/events.
Contact: 863-438-2758
Mulberry’s Back to School Bash
When: Saturday, August 3, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Mulberry High School Gym, 1 Panther Place, Mulberry
What: For students who attend Kingsford or Purcell Elementary; This event features free hot dogs, games, snacks and a backpack with school supplies to the first 500 pre-registrants of Kingsford or Purchell Elementary.
Contact: lholstein@cityofmulberry.com
Summer Palooza
When: Saturday, August 3, 10-2 p.m.
Where: RP Funding Center-Jenkins Arena, Lakeland
What: New Beginnings High School is hosting the annual Summer Palooza event so that families and children will have the necessary resources to go back to school. New Beginnings’ Summer Palooza will provide necessities along with guest speakers, entertainment, vendors, door prizes and more.
Contact: Shawna Butler, 863-298-5666
Back to School Jam
When: Sunday, August 4, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Winter Haven High School
What: Join WiLD 94.1 at this free community event for students of any school featuring food trucks, giveaways, haircuts, performances, and more.
Boost Mobile Back to School Event
When: Sunday, August 4, 12-4 p.m.
Where: Boost Mobile, 6840 S Florida Ave, Lakeland
What:Score a new backpack and school supplies for your student at a participating Boost Mobile location during the back-to-school event. There will be music, games and fun for the whole family.
Fresh Back to School Event
When: Sunday, August 4, 1-5 p.m.
Where: Kathleen High School, 1100 Red Devil Way, Lakeland
What: PUSH’D and For the C.U.L.T.U.R.E presents this back-to-school event with food & drinks, activities, a DJ, and a backpack giveaway.
Contact: fortheculture.iou@gmail.com
Rock the Block Back to School Bash
When: Friday, August 9-Sunday, August 11, 4-7:30 p.m.
Where: Harvest Church Lakeland, 2120 Airport Rd., Lakeland
What: Bring the entire family to this community event featuring giveaways, food, bounce houses and more.
500 backpacks will be given out 4 p.m.
Family Fun and games 4-6 p.m.
Family Kidz Xplosion 6-7:30 p.m.
Giveaways 7:30 p.m.
Back to School Community Expo
When: Saturday, August 10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Florida Technical College Lakeland Campus, 4715 Florida Avenue S. #4, Lakeland
What: Learn about Florida Technical College’s programs while enjoying live music from Hot 101.5, exhibitors, campus tours, free food, family activities and free backpacks with school supplies kits, while supplies lasts To participate, you must register in person on campus.
Back to School Supply Giveaway
When: Saturday, August 10 12-2 p.m.
Where: DUTCH Seafood Takeout, 817 north mass., Lakeland
What: Who’s Who in Business and Dutch Seafood present this event featuring gift card raffles, face painting, a bounce house and seafood special. To donate items for the supply event, drop off items Dutch Seafood or Crystal’s World of Dance (801 N Massachusetts).
Contact: pcwwb.fl@gmail.com, 8636405832
Rent King Back 2 School Bash
When: Saturday, August 10, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Rent King, 2610 US Hwy 92 E, Lakeland, Florida 33801
What: Get back-to-school ready with Rent King where you’ll find back to school deals of the summer, backpack and gift card giveaways, and free food & drinks and activities for the kids.
Contact: 863-802-1928; rentking009@hotmail.com
Belk Back-to-School Charity Sale
When: Saturday, August 24, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where: Belk, 1400 Town Center Dr., Lakeland
What: The Belk Charity Sale is a private sale dedicated to supporting local nonprofits. The Learning Resource Center, as well as other participating charities and schools, will have the opportunity to raise money by selling $5 tickets, and keeping 100% of ticket proceeds. Ticket holders will receive 20% – 70% off of Belk purchases storewide, including special savings on rarely-discounted brands plus $5 off their purchase. The presale takes place August 12-23. Stop into the Learning Resource Center (1628 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland) to pick up your tickets today!

Donation Drives

Stuff the Bus
Stuff the Bus is Central Florida’s largest back-to-school campaign. In addition to the traditional school supplies that are needed such as pens, pencils, wide rule paper, folders with prongs, crayons, markers, backpacks, glue and erasers, you may also donate copy paper, facial tissue, index cards, highlighters, hand sanitizer, zip lock bags, and pencil boxes.
Lakeland: Now at the Learning Resource Center (1628 S. Florida Ave.)
Lakeland: Wednesday, August 7, 7-9 a.m. with Emerge Lakeland at the RP Funding Center (404 W. Lime St.)- Volunteer to organize supply donations
Lakeland: August 7, 7-8:30 a.m. at Hall Communications (404 West Lime St.)
Bartow: Now at the Bartow Chamber (510 N. Broadway Ave. in Bartow)