Suitcases collected for charity

LAWRENCEVILLE - Georgia Cancer Specialists and WSB-TV are teaming up on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to collect suitcases - an effort to make a difference in the lives of numerous foster children throughout Georgia.

With nearly 15,000 children living in foster care throughout the state, employees and volunteers have decided to spend the day collecting bags for foster children who may otherwise carry their belongings in trash bags when shuffled between different care providers.

"Instead of spending the day off running errands, we're doing something to make a difference for these kids," said Dr. Bruce Feinberg, president and CEO of Georgia Cancer Specialists.

The two will be collecting new and slightly used suitcases, part of "Totes 2 Tots," from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at their office located at 601-A Professional Drive, Suite 260 - one of the 12 locations throughout the state where collections will take place.

The event is an annual collection started nearly four years ago with the plan of doing something great for children, carrying on the caring principles of Martin Luther King Jr. and the reason for the holiday, Feinberg said.

Feinberg, practicing at both the Lawrenceville and a Conyers location, said the idea for Totes 2 Tots came about at a board meeting, evolving from a suggestion from an employee who was also a foster parent.

"It seemed like a great way to make a difference," he said.

Feinberg said more than 100 volunteers will be working Monday to collect the bags that will later be distributed to children through Division of Family and Children Services.

"We're asking for something so little," Feinberg said. "We're asking people to spend $10 to $12 and purchase a backpack or bag for a child so they can have something that is truly theirs to keep their belongings in."

Since the event started in 2003, Feinberg said volunteers have collected 6,000 to 7,000 totes, collecting more than 1,500 bags last year. He said everyone will work again next week to add to those numbers.

As far as a goal for bags wanted, the doctor said he and the volunteers try not to get caught up with numbers.

"We'd love to break 2,000 this year, but we're really looking to achieve quality," he said. "We did great last year, and we're looking to well again this time."