Published: Jul 13, 2010 5:37 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 13, 2010 2:38 AM EDT

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Although it may feel like the kids just got out of school for Summer, before you know it, it’ll be time for the annual “back to school” shopping. For thousands of Charlotte County kids whose parents can’t afford the pens, notebooks and other classroom essentials, they depend on events like the Back to School Carnival at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County. This year, they need your help.

“There is nothing more stressful than a parent needing supplies and not being able to get them,” Donna Barrett said.

Barrett, the Sales and Marketing Director of the Cultural Center knows that feeling. Two years ago, when she heard Charlotte County Public Schools discontinued the free school supply giveaway because of budget cuts, she knew she had to keep it going.

“A few years ago, it was me that needed the school supplies,” Barrett said. “Now I'm in the position where we're able to organize an event that will help these other children.”

She organized the Back to School Carnival, where kids can get free haircuts, physicals and immunizations.

“The lines are getting bigger and bigger and our biggest fear is that we don’t have enough school supplies to take care of all the children in line,” Executive Director Jim Hageman said.

Especially this year.

“We could have up to 4,000 children come through for this event,” Barrett said. “Right now, currently with what's been turned in, we have enough for about 500 children.”

Here's where you come in. They need all the typical back to school supplies: looseleaf, notebooks, pens and pencil, folders with pockets, glue, glue sticks, markers, crayons, and jump drives for the older kids.  It won’t cost you much to help out. You could spend $6 on lunch for one day, or you could spend $6 to help one child prepare for the entire school year.

Each year, Donna makes sure every child is back-to-school ready, and with a little boost, this year will be no different.

The Back to School Carnival is from  9 a.m. to Noon on July 31st at the Cultural Center, 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte. For more information on how to help, call Donna Barrett at 941-625-4175.