Going back to school or showing up at work may not be optional, but preparing well can move you to the head of the class.

The smartest way to stock up on school supplies and clothing will be to take advantage of Ohio’s sales tax holiday Friday through Sunday. Clothes and shoes costing $75 or less per item are exempt from sales tax as well as school supplies and books costing $20 or less per item.

Even if you don’t have a child in school, you can buy tax-free school supplies and donate them to students in need, such as those in families served by Alvis. The nonprofit, which helps those in the criminal justice system or with intellectual or developmental disabilities, is collecting school supplies through Thursday. Financial donations are also needed.

Avoiding sales tax on back-to-school items is sure to keep retail cash registers busy this weekend. Learn what else keeps central Ohio’s retail ecosystem humming at the Columbus Chamber and Franklin County annual retail summit, Smart Region + Smart Retail Aug. 9-10.

Help encourage reading by donating new and gently used kids’ books at area Panera Bread restaurants’ Books for Breakfast drive Tuesday from 7 a.m. to noon and get a coupon for a free breakfast sandwich. The drive continues at all 23 locations of the Columbus Metropolitan Library through Aug. 31. The collections benefit students of Columbus City Schools.  

Small businesses can get a boost at the Small Business Resource Corridor Expo Aug. 11 at the Economic & Community Development Institute. Sponsor Fifth Third is offering free credit scores and financial counseling.

Help support Columbus State Community College culinary students Aug. 15 at Taste the Future, with food and drink provided by more than three dozen local restaurants and caterers. The annual fundraiser this year honors Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.

Beyond turning out some great chefs, Columbus State has more projects funded by grants from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program than any other community college in the US. CSCC’s eight awards total $5.6 million.

For some, returning to school means going back to being bullied or facing other challenges. Law firm Bricker & Eckler’s Women in Networking group sponsors Breaking Down Barriers with two other women’s law groups Aug. 18. Attendees will learn how to help children, teens and young adults address issues of cyberbullying, sexting, dating violence and body image concerns.

Another way to help those facing serious challenges is to participate in the Out of the Darkness Walk sponsored Sept. 24 by the Central Ohio Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The noon to 4 p.m. walk will be at Alum Creek State Park.