Totes for Tots to hold donation drive at 3 local spots

LAWRENCEVILLE -- In a state that ranks 39th overall in child well-being, Georgia Cancer Specialists and Atlanta Oncology Associates are partnering once again to help the thousands of Georgia children in foster care.

On Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., the organizations will host the eighth annual Totes for Tots campaign at 23 metro Atlanta GCS and AOA offices, including three in Gwinnett.

Gwinnett locations include the GCS Johns Creek office at 6335 Hospital Parkway, Suite 107; GCS Eastside in Snellville at 1800 Tree Lane, Suite 180; and the Georgia Center for Total Cancer Care at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville at 698 Duluth Highway, Suite 201.

From noon until 1 p.m., Chopper, the Gwinnett Braves mascot, will be on site at the Lawrenceville location to help collect bags and take pictures with fans.

Totes for Tots began in 2003 and was originally held on Martin Luther King Day as a way to honor his vision and give back to the community, officials said.

It is now being held on the Friday before the holiday to kick off the weekend of service.

In all, the program has collected and distributed nearly 18,000 bags -- including suitcases, duffel bags and backpacks -- to foster children of all ages.

Mark Washington, Georgia Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Family and Children Services, said leaving home can be a traumatic time for a child, who shouldn't have to worry about what's happening to his or her belongings.

"Something as simple as providing a piece of luggage for their cherished possessions is a source of comfort in an otherwise difficult situation," Washington said. "Our goal is to increase donations over last year because we know this generosity goes a long way."

For more information about Totes for Tots, visit www.gacancer.com or call 1-877-716-CARE.