Back to school immunizations, fairs, sales tax holiday set

by By Cristin Parker

Local school districts aren’t the only ones with back-to-school fever.

The Cherokee County Health Department and non-profits in both Rusk and Jacksonville are also gearing up for the county’s first days of school to help make sure every Cherokee County child gets what they need to succeed.

County health department officials are holding the 2018 East Texas Medical Outreach from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 3 at the department, 803 College Ave., in Jacksonville – benefiting uninsured families with students who need immunizations or physicals for the 2018-19 school year. Children’s shot records will be required.

“Please note that providing immunizations for multiple children in a single family may require an extended wait time,” the department’s website states. “Please bring all immunization records, if available. A parent or guardian must be present for children under the age of 18. Finally, please allow time to complete mandatory documentation necessary to provide immunizations services.”

The Cherokee County Health Department offers immunizations to students from 8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 8-11 a.m. Friday; and offers extended hours very second Tuesday of the month, from 7:30-11 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.

Call the health department, (903) 586-6191 to make an appointment.

In Rusk, The Tree of Promise’s annual More than a Backpack school supply drive is still about $4,700 short of covering all its supply costs. Tree of Promise officials reported the organization’s estimated costs for this year’s Backpack program totaled an estimated $14,845.

“We have received $6,661.39 in donations with a few more pledges yet to come in,” Tree of Promise Director Pat Hardy said. “Thank you to everyone who purchased backpacks -- all 500 have been bought!”

Local businesses, churches and civic organization who have donated to the drive include Brookshire Brothers, Harry’s Building, The Hip Shack, Allen’s Tire, Berry & Clay, Marrow Properties, Jo Ed Anderson Realty, Austin Young-Farmers Insurance, Dr. Jerry Ocker DDS, All Star Collision, Affiliated Surveyors, Cherokee Animal Clinic, J&J Jewelry, Tosh Insurance Agency, First Baptist Church-Rusk, Cherokee County Electric Cooperative, First United Methodist-Rusk, Austin Bank, J&P Kwikstop convenience store, Cherokee County Federal Credit Union, Cherokee County Teachers Federal Credit Union, East Texas Auto, River of Life, Citizens 1st Bank, The Cherokeean Herald, Texas Farm Bureau insurance, Dr. Stacy Black DDS, Rusk Rotary Club, Anita Woodlee CPA & Associates, Rusk Church of Christ. Pledged sponsors include ETech, Inc. and Whataburger-Rusk.

To donate, visit Austin Bank-Rusk and make a donation directly to the Tree’s account; mail donations to the organization’s office, 125 East Sixth St., Rusk TX 75785 or visit the Tree of Promise’s website, and make donations through PayPal’s Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) public charity. PayPal Giving Fund provides a receipt for donations and guarantees 100 percent of donations made through the service go to the charity -- no deductions, no fees.

The Tree of Promise’s annual More than a Backpack back-to-school fair will be held from 4-7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 13, at the Rusk Civic Center, 555 Euclid St., Rusk. Free backpacks and school supplies will be available on a first come-first served basis, for Rusk students in grades prekindergarten through eighth grade, with proof of residency within the Rusk school district.

Also, in Rusk, local entrepreneurs with health eSCENTials are offering a Back to School Survival Guide for students, parents, teachers and other school staff will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Tuesday in August, at the Daily Grind coffee shop, 111 W. Fifth St., Rusk.

“With all the changes, like bedtimes, morning routines and even what and when your students will be eating, emotions can get crazy and immune systems can become compromised,” event co-organizer Vera Smith said. “Learn some amazing natural ways to help protect and keep your family healthy. We’ll share tips about supporting emotional, mental and physical well-being.”

Event organizers said their products will not be on sale during the back-to-school event.

In Jacksonville, The Clothes Closet & More organization is holding its annual Outfitting for the Future back to school drive. Any new or gently used, JISD-approved children’s clothing, shoes, belts and backpacks can be donated to the drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the Clothes Closet, 314 S. Main St., Jacksonville. Call (903) 586-0204 for more information.

The JISD official school dress code is now allowing students to wear jeans any day of the week, as long as the pants follow the district’s guidelines, which state “pants may not be ripped, cut or have holes of any kind.” All types of pants listed in the JISD dress code must be worn at the waistline and be worn with a belt, which are optional for pre-K through fourth grade students only.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce will hold a back-to-school fair from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, at the John Alexander Gym Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce St., Jacksonville. Backpacks and supplies will be available to student registered in the Jacksonville school district. Children ages 5 years to sixth grade are welcome to participate in rodeo activities provided by Rodeo Zone. Register for the day by calling Stacy Halbert, (903) 520-7480.

State officials are helping ease the costs of back-to-school by holding the annual sales tax holiday.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10-12. Most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced less than $100 will be exempt from sales tax when purchased during the three-day event, saving shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend during the weekend.

“As Texas families begin the process of replacing their beach bags with book bags, Texas’ sales tax holiday is the perfect opportunity to save some money on the supplies families need before the school bell rings,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said in a recent press release. “As a dad to three young children, I know how these expenses can add up.”

This year, shoppers will save an estimated $90.3 million in state and local sales taxes during the sales tax holiday.

Texas’ tax holiday weekend has been an annual event since 1999.

Lists of apparel and school supplies that may be purchased tax-free can be found on the Comptroller’s website at