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DFCS collects book bags, supplies for foster children

LAWRENCEVILLE - While most kids see the first day at school as an opportunity to show off new clothes, book bags and other apparel, some children fear their first day because they lack some of the most necessary school materials.

For the latter, the Gwinnett Department of Family and Children Services is collecting book bags and school supplies so those kids won't feel different when they step into class on that all-important first day of class.

DFCS, which began collecting materials at the Georgia National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville Monday morning, has already seen a large outpouring of generosity in their drive to collect as many book bags as possible.

"The community is so supportive, and we need them to be because we have more and more children we're trying to help every year," said Deborah Barinowski, volunteer resource coordinator for DFCS.

Barinowski said DFCS tries to provide book bags and supplies to all the county's children in foster care and protective services. After distributing to those kids, DFCS will then try to distribute to children with economic needs.

The drive is receiving support from local organizations, churches, businesses and individuals looking to help children in need.

Gay Madden, a counselor a Shiloh Middle School, brought in about 80 book bags collected by the people of Cannon United Methodist Church.

Madden said she often sees children who can't afford to buy a new book bag or materials for school and was very excited that she and her church were able to help.

"What might not be a lot to some can be overwhelming for others," Madden said.

John Homonek of ASR Computers said his company has contributed to the book bag drive for years and enjoys having a chance to assist the community.

"We love having the opportunity to give back and we feel like helping people on a local level is the best thing we can do," Homonek said.

Not only does DFCS need people to bring supplies, but they also need volunteers to help sort and fill book bags.

Pat Swan and Cheryl Shaw of the Lilburn Women's Club are two such volunteers that will be helping out with the enormous task of sorting through the county's generosity.

Swan said children sometimes come in with their parents and they get to see the kids when they are given a book bag.

"Seeing the way the children's faces light up is unbelievable," Swan said. "They get so excited when they see it and it just makes you feel good when you see that they're happy."

Barinowski said that they were very excited at the support they've already received but they will always need more book bags.

People are urged to bring book bags to the Georgia National Guard Armory at 261 E. Crogan St. between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. today, but DFCS will continue to accept donations at that site until Aug. 3.

After that date people can bring their donations to DFCS at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration building.