Georgia Cancer Specialists to Sponsor Seventh Annual “Totes 2 Tots” Suitcase Drive for Foster Children

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

GCS Partners with WSB-TV to Collect Bags at 25 GCS Locations

Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS) – the largest private medical oncology/hematology practice in the Southeast – is pleased to announce the seventh annual “Totes 2 Tots” suitcase drive for foster children. 25 GCS offices across Georgia – including 21 in Metro Atlanta – will participate in the drive on Friday, January 16, 2009, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Totes 2 Tots” delivers new or nearly new back packs and kid-sized suitcases to foster children in Georgia, many of whom must shuffle their belongings from home to home in garbage bags during frequent relocations. The annual volunteer event was first launched by GCS in 2003 and has collected and distributed almost 12,700 bags. The 2008 event amassed nearly 4,500 bags. Originally held on Martin Luther King Day as a way to honor Dr. King’s vision and give back to the community, Totes is now held on the Friday before MLK Day as a kickoff to a weekend of service.

“Totes 2 Tots is a service project that is near and dear to all of our hearts, and we believe every year we are honoring Dr. King’s dream,” said Dr. Bruce Feinberg, President/CEO of GCS. “With the continued growth Totes has experienced every year, I can only imagine what heights it may soar to in 2009.”

25 GCS offices will participate in this year’s drive, including Alpharetta, Athens, Blairsville, Blue Ridge, Canton, Cobb, Crawford Long, Cumming, Eastside, Fayetteville, Griffin, Gwinnett, Hawkinsville, Hillandale, Johns Creek, Kennestone, Lake Oconee, Macon, Milledgeville, Northside, Paulding, Rockdale, Stemmer (Decatur), Stockbridge, and the Verre Centre GCS Administrative Annex.

GCS partners with the Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) to distribute the bags in the counties in which they’re collected. Bobby Cagle, Family Services Director for DFCS, is thrilled to be part of such a wonderful community service project.

“One of the most difficult times that a child may experience is being placed in an environment that is unfamiliar. Unfortunately, they are often placed with very little that belongs to them, carrying these items in a paper or plastic bag,” said Cagle. “Thanks to the Totes 2 Tots program, we’ve distributed nearly 12,700 bags to children in the custody of DFCS. It is truly rewarding to see the expression on a child’s face when receiving their bag and realizing that it belongs to them! DFCS and the children and families we serve are grateful to the many volunteers who participate in this wonderful initiative.”

Last year, Mary Perdue, Georgia’s First Lady, helped collect bags and gave a brief presentation at GCS’s Stemmer office. The First Lady and her husband, Governor Sonny Perdue, are very active in the foster community and have been foster parents themselves.

“I’m pleased with the efforts of Totes 2 Tots in finding ways to meet the needs of abused and neglected children,” said First Lady Perdue. “This endeavor enables us to help Georgia’s foster community, and I encourage all Georgians to take part in making a difference in the life of a child.”

In 2005, WSB-TV recognized the importance of the drive and agreed to support it as a part of its Family 2 Family Project. This will be the fifth year that GCS and WSB-TV have partnered for “Totes 2 Tots.” Family 2 Family is the longest running locally produced, comprehensive, station-wide public service effort in Georgia. It includes shows such as People 2 People, a weekly half-hour public affairs program hosted by Jocelyn Dorsey that chronicles events and newsmakers in metro Atlanta.

For more information, visit www.gacancer.com, or call 1-877-716-CARE (2273).

Interviews available upon request.

Statistics About Georgia’s Foster Children

  • 15,119 children were in foster care as of December 2005
  • 30% of those children have been in foster care more than 24 months
  • 50% were African-American
  • 41% were less than 6 years old
  • 67% were younger than 12
  • About 2,237 of those children were staying with relatives
  • About 8,386 were staying in foster homes
  • About 1,561 were in group homes
  • About 974 were housed in institutions
  • Approximately 8% of the children discharged will re-enter foster care within 1 year
  • Foster parents are reimbursed according to the age of the child: birth to 5, $13.75; 6-12, $15.50; 13 and above, $17.75. The rate is higher for children needing medical care or a higher level of supervision. Medical treatment and clothing costs are covered by the agency.
  • Georgia’s 200 group homes are reimbursed for about 68% of their costs
  • Georgia’s 4,174 foster parents are reimbursed for about 67% of their costs
  • Those 4,174 families save the state approximately $34 million per year
  • Georgia ranks 39 out of 50 states in overall child well being

**Statistics from Governor Sonny Perdue’s web site:

http://gov.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,78006749_79688181,00.html

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