Kids Tag Art Pinellas Gets Creative With Virtual Awards Ceremony

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL – On the evening of January 14th, the imaginations of local 5th-grade students were celebrated as Kids Tag Art Pinellas hosted their first-ever virtual awards ceremony at Largo High School.

2021 marks the sixth consecutive year for the Kids Tag Art Pinellas program.  Through a partnership with the Pinellas County Tax Collector, Charles W. Thomas, and Pinellas County Schools, funds are raised for local elementary art classrooms by encouraging 5th-grade students to design their very own, front-facing vanity plates during art class. These plates are then sold to the public at kidstagartpinellas.org, with 100 percent of the proceeds returning to the participating art classrooms.

Thursday evening, Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas and members of his team and the Pinellas County Schools Visual Art Department streamed the 2020-2021 awards ceremony live on YouTube. Students, teachers, and parents tuned in live as Thomas and other program sponsors presented awards to top student artists.

The winning artwork is selected by a panel of judges made up of retired art teachers – each Award of Excellence winner receives a special certificate and medal to mark their achievement.  Program sponsors select designs to receive special honors by choosing their favorite design or best work from a themed contest. Sponsor Choice winners receive a framed copy of their design on a metal tag along with a swag bag full of goodies.

Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas, virtually presents his Tax Collector Choice Award to Oliver O. from Curlew Creek Elementary.

The coveted top honor, the Tax Collector Choice Award, is selected by Thomas. This year’s winner, Oliver O. from Curlew Creek elementary, masterfully drew a manatee and a scuba diver. In addition to a framed tag, Oliver won four tickets to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a Cicis Clearwater pizza party for four, and a Tampa Bay Lightning hat signed by number 17, Alex Killorn.

“I selected this design because of both the artistic skill of the young artist who created it and because it is the perfect representation of life in Pinellas County – where our beautiful beaches and their inhabitants are always present in the lives of our residents,” said Thomas.

The program relies heavily on support from local businesses and when the pandemic hit, the future of Kids Tag Art Pinellas was unknown.

“As we began planning for this year’s Kids Tag Art, we were hopeful, but unsure, of what kind of response we would get from both the schools and the sponsors, as COVID-19 had hit our community pretty hard,” Thomas said. “However, I am pleased to say that everyone really stepped up and that during a time when much was lost, this community still chose to give.”

Over 1,100 students from all over the county participated in this year’s program and the Tax Collector’s office raised more than $30,000 in donations alone from generous local sponsors. Since its inception, more than $200,000 has been raised by Kids Tag Art Pinellas for local elementary art classrooms and programs. The winning tags from each year are put on display at tax collector offices throughout the county.  Be on the lookout for these displays in the coming months.

“Each student is a citizen of our community and we feel that creativity is essential to a child’s future success,” Thomas went on to say. “My team and I look forward to this program every year. The imagination shown by these students is incredible and we love the opportunity to help fuel and fund elementary art programs.”

In addition to tag sales, Kids Tag Art Pinellas helps to bridge the elementary art funding gap by collecting donations from community sponsors like Platinum Sponsor CenterState Bank and other various sponsors to include, Tag Agency of Pinellas, Direct Mail Systems, Florida Heart Research Foundation, Bill 2 Pay, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Office & Flooring Worx, Lauren’s Kids, Cicis Clearwater, Motor Vehicle Network, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, LifeLink, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and DPrint. To find out more about the program, or to become a sponsor, visit kidstagartpinellas.org. Follow agency updates about Kids Tag Art Pinellas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @PinellasTC.

Congratulations to all the student winners!  The full awards ceremony can be viewed by the public at https://youtu.be/AdFnlWZgy9Y.

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ABOUT THE PINELLAS COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR’S OFFICE: The Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office is a constitutionally elected office. Responsibilities include collecting and distributing state and local taxes and providing driver license and motor vehicle registration services to Pinellas County residents. For more information, visit taxcollect.com.