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Students help give Easter joy to foster kids

DULUTH - Popcorn, snow cones, face painting and games are just some of the things Gwinnett foster kids have in store for them at the upcoming Foster Children's Foundation annual Easter egg hunt.

Eleven teens from various Gwinnett County high schools sprawled candy, eggs and stuffed animals onto table tops and sorted them into baskets for the kids at the Foster Children's Foundation resource center Saturday morning. Items were donated from area Girl Scout troops, high school drives and various community donations.

Foster Children's Foundation Director Susanne Geske looked on as the teens organized one of the nonprofit's major annual events.

The annual Easter egg hunt gives foster kids a sense of tradition, Geske said, and allows siblings who might be in separate foster homes a chance to spend the day together and play.

"We also make sure the kids meet good examples of upstanding people like Miss Georgia, Congressman (John) Linder and we've even had members from the Harlem Globetrotters," Geske said.

The Easter egg hunt brings together more than 800 foster kids in Gwinnett for a day of fun and provides an opportunity for teens to learn event planning and volunteering skills.

"It's a great feeling to give back to the community and to see the children smile," said Molly Flageolle, a Brookwood High School senior. "There are so many people and kids in need and this is a great way to help."

Flageolle and the other Saturday volunteers are members of the Junior Executive Committee, which comprises students from Gwinnett high schools who plan projects and programs for foster children.

"Oftentimes the youth in foster care are able to relate more to people of their own age, and many fostered youth have a difficult time trusting adults," said Mandi Geske, a student at Georgia Perimeter College and the daughter of Susanne Geske.

The committee's teens are expected to not only create the ideas for each Foster Children's Foundation event but take care of filling out the proper paperwork and getting the necessary permits.

"They came up with a Peeps race where you have Peeps on a spoon instead of eggs and they came up with a scavenger hunt for the teens with riddles and store gift cards so they could get involved and not be bored," Mandi Geske said.

For information on how to get involved in the Foster Children's Foundation, e-mail Suzanne Geske at info@fosterchildrensfoundation.org.