At the same time, local organizations are working to help low-income residents provide the necessary supplies for their children.
The sales tax holiday begins after midnight Friday and continues through midnight Sunday. All across Alabama the 4 percent state sales tax will be waived on qualified purchases. In 274 participating cities and counties including Cleburne County, Heflin, Ranburne and Edwardsville, the local sales tax will also be waived. Even people without school-aged children will be able to make sales-taxfree purchases over the weekend.
According to the Alabama Retail Association, Alabama parents will spend about $1.08 billion to get their children ready for school this year.
That makes the back-to-school shopping season the second-busiest behind the Christmas shopping season, the retail association said in a written statement.
But while some residents strategically delay their back-to-school purchases until Alabama’s annual sales tax holiday, others have difficulty purchasing all of their children’s school necessities even with the tax break.
This year, Forte Power Systems staff put together 600 bags of school supplies for low-income students who need them. This is the second year the company held the giveaway, said Kristi Smith, Forte’s human resources manager.
They gave them away on Friday at the Heflin Recreation Center along with fruit from WM Grocery, paper and pencils from Buster Miles Auto Group and tote bags, pens and calendar stickers from New Leaf Marketing in Anniston.
The line of residents eager to pick up the donated supplies extended from the door of the gymnasium, down to a hallway where it snaked down and back and then out the front door.
“It’s expensive,” said Shalandra Becerra of Heflin, as she waited in line for the giveaway.
She’d gotten in line at 4 p.m. for the 5:30 p.m. event to pick up supplies for her four girls aged 5, 9, 10 and 16.
“It helps free up more income for necessities like clothes and shoes,” Becerra said.
HEARTS, Helping Every Area Resident to Succeed, is also stepping up to help children from low-income families return to school with the supplies they need.
HEARTS has been collecting school supplies and distributing them to local children since 2001, said Jackie Howle, executive officer of the charity.
Clients can start signing up for school supplies today. Sign up will continue until school starts or supplies run out, Howle said. They can sign up at either the Ranburne thrift store on Main Street or the HEARTS House on Almon Street in Heflin, she added.
“We will probably serve 300 kids or more needing help with school supplies and/or shoes, clothes and possibly school fees,” Howle said.
On Aug. 8 volunteers will put together bags for the students. When the bags of supplies are ready, HEARTS will call clients to pick them up, Howle said.
HEARTS is in need of donations of school supplies or cash to help fill the school bags, Howle said. Donations of school supplies can be dropped off at either HEARTS location. Cash donations can be mailed to HEARTS at P.O. Box 377, Ranburne, AL 36273.
Staff writer Laura Camper 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.