With the first day of school just over a month away, we know parents are starting to think about supplies, uniforms, new shoes, new teachers, and all the other things that go along with the start of a new school year. While this year has been – and continues to be – anything but normal, we’re still rounding up all of the details you need to know about going back to school – whether it is in person or virtual.
**This post will be updated in June/July 2021**
If you’re new to Polk County or trying to figure out local school options, check out our Guide to Polk County School Options – Magnet, Charter, IB, Academies & more.
2021 Back-To-School Events & Free School Supplies
We’re adding all the Back-to-School Bashes and Free School Supply events in Polk County to our calendar as we find out about them. All upcoming events are shown below. Click on the name of any event for more details.
Holiday / Season
Our Favorite School “Supplies”
These are a few items that we find especially useful during the school year! Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support for Lakeland Mom if you decide to make a purchase.
Kick off the new school year with personalized fan gear to show your school pride. Get school swag from Prep Sportswear for over 100 schools in Lakeland & Polk County! Read our review and see if your school gear is on the list.
We haven’t used the Bentgo lunchbox yet, but it gets rave reviews on Amazon. It is a leak-proof lunchbox with a dishwasher-safe removable tray. YES PLEASE! You can even get multiple trays in case you forget to wash it out. Check it out and pick from a variety of colors and styles.
These keep me sane when it comes to my least favorite school year task – packing lunches. They have 3 compartments, perfect for a main item, fruit/veggie, and side. Once it’s full, my job is done!
You can even include dividers (see below) if you need even more individual spaces. For just $13.95 you get 4 of them, and they fit nicely into most lunchboxes. They stack inside each other for storing with all the lids on top. They are also DISHWASHER SAFE. (Note that they are not leakproof – I’ve used Glad press and seal on a few occasions, otherwise I just don’t put anything liquid inside). Click here to get a set and make lunch assembly a little easier!
These are reusable silicone cupcake liners, but they are perfect for holding small food portions within an Easy Lunchbox. See the photo below for how these are used together. Colorful, fun, functional, and you get 12 for only $5.99! Click here to get yours from Amazon.
A great variety of labels, including allergy labels for food containers, shoe labels, clothing labels, bag tags, small labels, big labels, and even make really unique ID bracelets that are water resistant and disposable, perfect for field trips and theme parks. If you’re looking for labels that are themed and fun, Mabel’s Labels are for you. The best part – FREE SHIPPING! Click here to see what Mabel’s Labels has to offer.
If you have a little one that is required to wear a belt to school (or just likes to), a magnetic belt is the perfect solution to make it easy on them! This was a “must have” for preschool and kindergarten in my house. Check out the ones we’ve used from Amazon – they hold up well and can be set to almost any waist size.
Primary offers classic clothes in a huge variety of colors. No logos, no slogans, no sequins, just soft fabrics. Perfect for uniform clothes that can’t include a logo or any other design. Jackets, shorts, t-shirts, leggings, long sleeve shirts, and much more. Check out Primary.com and save 20% with code AFF20PCT.
2020 School Supply Drives & Donation Locations
We’ve put together a list of local supply drives where you can donate supplies and make a difference in a child’s life. Even if you are already stretching a dollar to buy supplies for your own family, there are still ways to donate without breaking the bank – buy items you need during BOGO sales at Publix and donate the extra set, or check out the 1 penny deals at Staples and Office Depot.
Sponsored by: Lakeland Kiwanis Club
Details: The main collection location is at WPCV/WONN/Hall Communications (across from the Lakeland Center) on Wednesday, August 5 from 7-8:30am. Supplies will be sorted and delivered to local schools later that day. However, there are also collection boxes already placed all over the Lakeland community where you can donate school supplies. We can almost guarantee you can find a box somewhere near you. Boxes will be picked up the week of August 1, so get your supplies into a box before then!
Sponsored by: Bartow ENGAGE Chamber Young Professionals
Donation Locations: Bartow Chamber, 510 North Broadway Avenue • Bartow, Florida 33830
Twisted Pineapple Boutique, 160 S Wilson Ave • Bartow, Florida 33830 (Bring in a donation listed below for a 10% off discount as well as being entered into a $100 gift card to TP)
Details: Begins July 8 and runs through August 16. Items benefit homeless children identified by Project Hearth. Items most needed this time of year are school supplies including pens (red, black and blue), #2 pencils, notebook paper, composition notebooks, pencil sharpeners, glue bottles, scissors (blunt end), and 2 gallon ziplock bags. In addition, hygiene items are needed such as shampoo, conditioner, bodywash or soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes are much needed. Gift cards for food and gas are also appreciated. Click here for more details.
The Free Teacher Market is a place where Polk County’s public school teachers can visit to obtain free supplies for their classrooms and students. This project is administered by the Polk Education Foundation and made possible by donations of supplies and funds from individuals, business and civic organizations in our community. The store is located at Bartow Middle School, near the 4-way stop. The physical address is: 550 E Clower St, Bartow, FL 33830. Donations are accepted year round at the PEF Office or Teacher Market. For hours and details, please call 863-519-0519 or visit the website. (Call prior to dropping off donations)