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DFCS asking public to donate book bags for needy children

LAWRENCEVILLE - For about 15 years Gwinnett's Department of Family and Children Services has responded to children's needs for school book bags. That time has come again.

DFCS is asking the community to provide the county's foster children and those in protective services with their own new book bags before school starts Aug. 14 for Gwinnett County schools. Donations will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1 at the Georgia National Guard Armory, located at 261 East Crogan St. in Lawrenceville.

"This is an annual thing and we have been doing this since the early 1990s," Deborah Barinowski, DFCS volunteer resource coordinator, said. "I have been here since 1987 and I saw a need. Most kids in Gwinnett County are fortunate to go back to school with a new, reliable book bag, and I want those who aren't as fortunate to be able to fit in with the other students."

Barinowski also said the children especially need the validation of necessary school items to give them a positive outlook on the new school year, and DFCS case loads have increased so more bags are needed than in years past.

"Last year we received 1,500 bags, and the community has been very supportive," Barinowski said.

Barinowski said DFCS is requesting the book bags be new, attractive to both genders, sturdy and generously filled to accommodate primarily the elementary-age grade levels to high school.

"We ask that parents buy new book bags the same time they buy one for their children," she said.

Supply suggestions, according to Barinowski, include three-ring binders, theme covers, spiral notebooks, filler paper, pens and pencils, small calculators, dry erasers, colored markers and any "office type" supplies.

"This is a great operation and the National Guard Armory is so generous to let us use their place and for partnering with us," Barinowski said.

Barinowski said DFCS will be at the National Guard Armory the following week through Aug. 9 giving out the book bags, but will have to leave the site by Aug. 11. If all the book bags are not gone by then, they will be brought back to the DFCS location at One Justice Square in Lawrenceville for distribution.

Deliver book bag and supply donations from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1, to the Georgia National Guard Armory, 261 E. Crogan St. in Lawrenceville. Volunteers will be manning the armory for the remainder of the week distributing the donated bags to case managers. Those who cannot deliver during these times may contact Deborah Barinowski, volunteer resource coordinator, at 678-518-5758 or debarinowski@dhr.state.ga.us to schedule a later drop-off date.