It's not too early to start back-to-school shopping, especially if it won't cost you anything.
The Salvation Army in Brownwood is offering free school supplies to parents who register their kids by the end of this week. From binders to backpacks, there are boxes of supplies for students grades kindergarten through eighth.
"I just want them to have the best that they can have," Salvation Army director Donna Harris said.
According to Harris, the average cost parents spend on school supplies per child is between $35 to $60. With the recession and limited job availability, Harris said the need is enormous, but the signup forms have not been filling up as much as it should.
"I know it's hard for some parents to come in to do this. Sometimes we have to step away from a little pride and do something that takes care of the bigger picture--keeping those children in school."
Harris said she's heard stories of some kids dropping out of school due to being bullied for lack of equipment. She understands what it feels like to not have access to school supplies. She wants to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.
"We're here to help. We're not here to judge. When I can help, and their eyes light up, that's my day. That's my blessing."
Last year the Salvation Army helped more than 1,000 kids. So far this year, the organization received nearly 700 applications. Originally, the deadline to sign up was last week but Harris has extended it to this Friday. She will be in meetings all day but she will try to make adjustments to meet parents' needs. Parents can call in advance at (325) 646-5369. All they need is a photo ID, and their child's birth certificate, report card, shot card or food stamp letter. No financial information is required.