Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS) and Atlanta Oncology Associates (AOA) collected more than 4,000 bags in the eighth annual Totes 2 Tots suitcase drive for foster children. The event took place Friday, January 15 at 23 GCS offices around the state. Five of those offices also included 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 22,000 bags. The 2010 event amassed 4,200 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. “The more than 4,000 bags so generously donated by community members this year offer dignity and hope to Georgia’s foster kids.”
23 GCS and AOA offices participated in 2010’s drive, including Alpharetta, Athens, Blairsville, Blue Ridge, Canton, Cobb, Emory Midtown, Cumming, Eastside (Snellville), Fayetteville, Griffin, Hillandale (Lithonia), Johns Creek, Kennestone (Marietta), Lake Oconee, Lawrenceville, Macon, Milledgeville, Northside (Atlanta), Rockdale, Stemmer (Decatur), Stockbridge, and the Verre Center GCS Administrative Annex in Atlanta.
AOA staff supported GCS at the Alpharetta, Blairsville, Lake Oconee, Lawrenceville, and Macon locations.
“Supporting Totes 2 Tots has been 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.”
This year’s effort saw significant community support all over the state. In Marietta, a group of shoe-loving do-gooders called the Sole Sisters organized a partnership with Off Broadway Shoes. Shoppers who donated bags received 20% off their purchases! Their efforts brought in 186 bags.
In Decatur, the staff of manufacturing company Honeywell donated 171 bags for local foster kids.
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. 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 call 1-877-716-CARE (2273).