Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS) and Atlanta Oncology Associates (AOA) have announced the eighth annual Totes 2 Tots suitcase drive for foster children. The event will be hosted at 23 GCS offices on Friday, January 15 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Five of those offices also include AOA, now in its second year of supporting the Totes program.
Totes 2 Tots delivers new or nearly new backpacks, suitcases, duffel bags, diaper bags, and other age-appropriate bags to foster children in Georgia, many of whom must shuffle their belongings from home to home in garbage bags during frequent relocations. Kids who receive Totes bags range in age from infants to teenagers.
The annual volunteer event was first launched by GCS in 2003 and has collected and distributed more than 17,800 bags. The 2009 event amassed 5,216 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 we’re truly proud to support in the spirit of honoring Dr. King’s dream,” said Dr. Bruce Feinberg, president and CEO of GCS. “With the increasing community involvement Totes has experienced every year, I can only imagine what we will collectively achieve in 2010.”
23 GCS and AOA offices will participate in 2010’s drive, including Alpharetta, Athens, Blairsville, Blue Ridge (101 Riverstone Vista, Suite 102), Canton, Cobb, Emory Midtown, Cumming, Eastside (Snellville), Fayetteville, Griffin, Hillandale (Lithonia), Johns Creek (6335 Hospital Parkway), Kennestone (Marietta), Lake Oconee (1000 Cowles Clinic Way, Magnolia Building), Lawrenceville, Macon, Milledgeville, Northside (Atlanta), Rockdale, Stemmer (Decatur), Stockbridge, and the Verre Center GCS Administrative Annex in Atlanta.
AOA staff will support GCS at the Alpharetta, Blairsville, Lake Oconee, Lawrenceville, and Macon locations.
“Supporting Totes 2 Tots is fulfilling,” said president and CEO of AOA Dr. Dale McCord. “The purpose of Totes is to give to children in need, and we’re proud to be involved.”
GCS partners with the Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) to distribute the bags in the counties in which they’re collected.
“Leaving home is a traumatic enough experience for a child without them having to worry about what will happen to their belongings,” said Mark Washington, Georgia Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner for DFCS. “Something as simple as providing a piece of luggage for their cherished possessions is a source of comfort in an otherwise difficult situation. DFCS is grateful to those at Georgia Cancer Specialists and everyone else involved in this year’s initiative. Our goal is to increase donations over last year because we know this generosity goes a long way.”
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 sixth year that WSB-TV has supported 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 www.atlantaoncology.com, or call 1-877-716-CARE (2273).
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: