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Tax-Free in Tennessee

August 2, 2012

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I know what a lot of people will be doing Aug. 3-5. Shopping! It’s tax-free time in Tennessee. It applies to school supplies, kids’ clothing and even diapers.

Here are a few ways to make this weekend more fun and meaningful:

1) Buy more than your child needs. There are children who will be going to school whose families can not afford the basics. Yes, it’s true. Offer the extras to your child’s teacher, principal or keep them and ask or listen to your child to see if there is someone in the class they could give the extras. If a kid keeps asking yours for paper, don’t get mad. Send your kid with extra paper.

2) Buy diapers. It’ll be a good time to reminisce at the growth of your child while helping out other children and guardians. There are agencies near you who would love to have packs of diapers. My first suggestion would be to give them to Miriam’s Promise in East Nashville, but I am a bit biased.

3) Don’t have children? Don’t worry. I’ve got a plan for you, too. You can do what’s above, but my suggestion is to take the whole day and make it fun. You’re going to make School Kits for *UMCOR! Here’s the list (take notice of the bags required and packing and shipping).

Grab some friends to go shopping. I don’t know about you, but talking about school gets me excited. As you’re grabbing scissors, you can tell the story about trimming the ponytail of the girl who sat in front of you in first grade. Oh, you didn’t do that? What about the story where your favorite Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox leaked pickle juice all over your cubby. Didn’t do that either? Well, you get the picture. Have fun shopping and remembering the fun you had in school.

If you do this in the morning, go to lunch afterwards. Chuck-E-Cheese anyone? Hmmm, that may be a bit weird.

Designate a house or maybe a church where you can go through the supplies. (Wash your hands first, especially if you had that Chuck-E-Cheese pizza.) Sort your items and start an assembly line to fill the bags and get those boxes ready to ship.

If you’re a bit competitive, challenge another group of friends to do the same. See how many kits you can make. They really make a difference.

This weekend can be stressful, but don’t let it. Have fun and think of how you’re helping people and use it as bonding time.

*I love United Methodist Committee on Relief. We (and I say we because I am United Methodist and I tithe which means part of that money funds UMCOR) are some of the first people in disaster areas and we’re usually the last to leave. Yes, there are still UMCOR people in New Orleans. There are UMCOR offices around the world. One great and terrible example is Haiti. During the earthquake, there was actually an UMCOR meeting and unfortunately our UMCOR director and a pastor died at Hotel Montana. UMCOR is a great organization to give to regardless of your religious beliefs. All money given goes to the disasters and not to cover overhead or personnel. I’ll stop now. 

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