According to the Virginia Department of Taxation, (http://www.tax.virginia.gov/site.cfm?alias=SchoolSuppliesAndClothingHoliday), the sales tax holiday is coming up this weekend August 3rd- 5th. During this three day period, purchases of qualifying school supplies, under $20 and qualifying clothing and footwear, under $100, will be tax free. These price caps are per article. All supplies required during regular schooling are included and a detailed list is provided at the website listed above. The supplies do not actually have to be for school use, (just limited only to those on the school supply list), and all clothing including baby clothing is tax free. Sports and recreational equipment does not qualify for the sales tax holiday exemption. Computers do not qualify, (and also exceed the price limit), but calculators that do not exceed the price limitation do qualify for tax free status.
The National Retail Federation estimates that the average family spends more than $600 on children’s clothing, back to school supplies, and electronics each year. School supplies account for approximately $89 of this total and clothes around $220. So, I know that this tax-free weekend will provide a welcome relief and a little bit of a discount for many of you during a very expensive time of the year. This got me thinking, if the average family finds it necessary to spend around $300 per year, on back to school goods, think what a struggle this time must be for students whose parents have a less than average income.
In Spotsylvania County 11% of children under the age of 18 live below the Federal Poverty Line. There are approximately 23,000 students who attend Spotsylvania County Public Schools according to county data. This means that it is very likely that around 2,500 students in our county will have to go without basic school supplies this year. Probably more if you take into consideration that the federal poverty guideline for a family of four for 2012 is 23,000, and that many families who make a little more than this still may not be able to buy the extensive amount of school supplies required for each child at the beginning of a new school year.
As a former public school teacher, I know how heartbreaking it is to see students show up on the first day of school, 2nd week of school, and 3rd week of school… with no supplies. I also know how hard teachers, principals, counselors, and other school staff work to make sure that students get the supplies that they need. Many teachers spend a considerable amount of their own money each year buying basic supplies for students. After all, how can a student meet high standards, pass high-stakes testing, even be expected to learn when they don’t have a book bag, a pencil, or a notebook?
Want to help? Here is what you can do. Parrish Learning Zone will be collecting the following school supplies at our location, 1135 Heatherstone Drive, and possibly several other locations to be announced soon. The supplies you donate will be distributed to local Spotsylvania County Public School students. After school supplies are collected, Parrish Learning Zone will purchase a book bag for each set of supplies (up to 48). We will be collecting supplies from August 6th to Labor Day. Please help if you can by purchasing any of the supplies from the list below while you are out shopping for your kids on tax free weekend:
#2 wood pencils
Glue sticks or white school glue
Crayons or colored pencils
Safety (blunt tip) children’s scissors
Spiral or composition notebooks
Loose leaf notebook filler paper
Pink bar erasers
White Board Markers
If your church, civic organization or business is willing to help collect items for this drive or serve as a drop off location, please contact Nina Parrish at (540) 999-8759, firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.