Where to Find Free Backpacks and School Supplies in Florida


Manatee County students will return to class on August 10 to begin the 2022-2023 school year.

Manatee County students will return to class on August 10 to begin the 2022-2023 school year.


Manatee County students will be returning to school soon, so now is the perfect time to start preparing your child for their first day. Local students will return to class on Wednesday, August 10.

Several area churches, nonprofits, and healthcare organizations are happy to help parents and students check their back-to-school to-do list by providing health screenings, physical exams, free vaccinations, backpacks and supplies.

Starting Monday through August 17, parents can take their children to the Manatee County Health Department at 410 Sixth Avenue East in Bradenton for vaccinations and physical exams. Clinics will operate from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A medical exam costs $45 and required vaccinations for children 18 and under are free.

Kindergarteners, seventh graders, and new and transfer students must provide Proof of Immunization Form DH 680 to enroll in Manatee County schools. Parents can get the forms from DOH-Manatee or through a health care provider.

Children in kindergarten through 12th grade entering, attending, or transferring to Florida schools must have the following vaccinations, according to the Florida Department of Health:

  • four or five doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis/whooping cough)
  • four or five doses of IPV (inactivated polio virus)
  • two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • three doses of hepatitis B
  • tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) and
  • two doses of chickenpox (chickenpox vaccine is not required if there is a history of chickenpox documented by the health care provider)

All children entering seventh grade in Florida must have:

In addition to making sure your child is physically ready for school, here’s a list of when and where parents can take their kids to get free backpacks and school supplies before school starts.

Christ Episcopal Church Backpack Delivery Event

When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday July 23

Where: 4030 Manatee Avenue, West Bradenton

Details: Delivery of backpacks and free grilled hot dogs with fries and water.

AM and FM Enterprise, Inc and Money Man Pawn – Operation Backpack

When: 10 am-until he is gone. Saturday July 23

Where: 1608 53rd Ave East, Bradenton

Details: Backpack with supplies, free hot dogs, snacks and draw for two $100 gift cards.

Bradenton Marauders – Back to School Party: Backpack Gift

When: 5 p.m. Saturday July 30

Where: LECOM Park – 1611 9th St W, Bradenton

Details: The first 500 children aged 12 and under will receive a Marauders backpack. There will also be post-match fireworks.

Rogers Community United Methodist Church – Family Fun and Wellness Fair

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday July 30

Where: 1100 15th St E, Bradenton

Details: Free event for the whole family, there will be music by a DJ, bounce house, Mr. Chip Magic Man, storytelling, screenings and wellness information, free books and school supplies, free take-out food bags and snacks to eat while doing activities.

Verizon Retail Store – School Rocks Backpack Giveaway

When: 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday July 31

Where: 7339 52nd Place East, Bradenton

Details: Store employees will distribute backpacks filled with school supplies, while supplies last. In addition to the giveaway, children in K-12 can enter a contest to win a $10,000 college scholarship. Five scholarship winners will be randomly selected.

League of Women Voters of Manatee County – Back to School Party

When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday August 6

Where: 4955 15th Street East, Bradenton

Details: 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies will be distributed, Meals on Wheels Plus food bags and free resources from local organizations.

Florida Penguin’s Sarasota Back-to-School Bash presented by the State College of Florida

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday August 6

Where: The University Town Center Mall – 140 University Town Center Dr, Sarasota. (Interior, lower level)

Details: State College of Florida will distribute 400 backpacks to local students. There will also be an interactive scavenger hunt, sports mascots, entertainers and a large trade show featuring dozens of businesses providing services for after-school programs, clubs, tutoring and healthcare.

This story was originally published July 22, 2022 12:58 p.m.

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