DALLAS -- It is less than a week before students head back to class in Dallas ISD. Many parents are still trying to get their children ready for the first day of school.

It can be expensive.

Some parents, like Caroline Michael of Oak Cliff, say stocking up on uniforms and supplies can be a challenge this time of year -- especially for those with several students heading back to class.

”It’s hard for me to do it, because I’ve got six grandchildren at home that I’m taking care of,” Michael explained.

Michael is among many parents on a fixed income, working to make ends meet. That is, in part, why Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities, along with Belk and other donors set up a pop-up shop in southern Dallas on Wednesday.

<p>Emmitt Smith</p>

“It takes a village to raise a child,” Emmitt Smith said as families gathered at Ellis Davis Field House. “We’ve got a lot of children out here that need some help.”

The groups gave away hundreds of free uniforms to students from Boude Storey Middle School and John Bryan Elementary School.

Marlene Norcross, regional vice president of Belk, estimates families spend between $150 to $250 per child on uniforms, alone. Add supplies, and the financial hit on families increases.

A family browses for a good fit at the uniform giveaway.

Organizers say the donations are helping to balance the burden.

“Our main goal is to give back to the community,” Norcross said. “You know, when you think about a kid getting ready to go back to school, it’s an exciting time, and we want to be able to help them with the excitement and the passion, and that confidence, and that they are dressed right.”

This is the third year the groups have partnered to give away free uniforms. A short power outage in the building did not stop families, staff, and volunteers from grabbing flashlights to finish their unique shopping experience.

It would take more than a power outage to end the giveaway.

Shaniqua Wilson has two children attending Boude Storey Middle School this year. She says until the uniform event, she had no idea whether she would have her children ready for the first day of school.

”I was so stressed out,” Wilson said. “You have no idea. Between losing jobs and trying to get everything, this came along, and here it is now. It’s a blessing in disguise.”