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Forsyth commUNITY live blog: Restaurants, Rotary Club team up to provide Easter meal for hospital staff
Staff at Northside Hospital Forsyth enjoy an Easter meal organized by Jaya Suma, a local resident, from Dutch Monkey Doughnuts and Giorgio's Italian Restaurant. (Photo courtesy Jaya Suma)

Editor's note: While the coronavirus is upending life for residents of Cumming and Forsyth County, it is also leading to numerous acts of kindness and generosity among neighbors. This is a place dedicated to sharing those stories, along with useful information and resources. We also want to hear from you. If you have a nomination for our Forsyth commUNITY blog, email us at You can send us other news tips here.

The Forsyth County News is making articles about the effects of the coronavirus in the state and our region available free to non-subscribers as a public service. You can find those here

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April 13, 2020

Forsyth County woman organizes Easter meal for hospital workers

Like many, Jaya Suma's children were born at Northside Hospital Forsyth, and like many, she wanted to give back to the hospital's staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So Suma organized a partnership between businesses and local organizations to serve an Easter lunch and dinner for staff in the emergency room and ICU departments from Dutch Monkey Doughnuts and Giorgio's Italian Restaurant.

"Thank you to all the staff at Northside Forsyth Hospital who are working hard everyday to fight Covid-19," Suma said. "We hope we made your day a little brighter."

Previously, Suma coordinated with a local Domino's Pizza to make a weekly donation of 20 pizzas for hospital staff.

--- From staff reports

Law firm donates $5,000 to The Place of Forsyth

Parker McFarland, with the law firm Banks, Stubbs and McFarland, LLP, presents The Place of Forsyth County a $5,000 donation to the nonprofit organization's CEO and president Joni Smith. (Photo for the Forsyth County News)

On Monday, Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP donated $5,000 to The Place of Forsyth County.

The Place of Forsyth County, located at 2550 The Place Circle, provides a variety of programs and services to local residents in need to help them become self-sustaining.

--- From staff reports

April 9, 2020

United Way of Forsyth County receives $25,000 matching emergency grant

The United Way of Forsyth County received a $25,000 matching grant from the North Georgia Community Foundation (NGCF) last week to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At this critical time, we are strengthening the capacity of our nonprofits, who are supporting the most vulnerable populations in our community," said Ruth Goode, executive director of the United Way of Forsyth County, in a statement. "We appreciate the North Georgia Community Foundation helping us do this critical work. It is a great demonstration of understanding how interconnected we are and how working together benefits the people who need us most.”

United Way of Forsyth County fundraises and provides support to local agencies in the areas of health, education, financial stability and basic needs in Forsyth and Dawson counties. 

The nonprofit organization was one of 12 recipients of emergency grants from the NGCF across North Georgia from its Coronavirus (COVID-19) Relief Fund totaling $135,000 to address immediate needs during the pandemic. 

“NGCF believes it is our responsibility to help strengthen our community during a crisis like this," Michelle Prater, NGCF president and CEO, said in a statement.

The NGCF has also announced that their entire 2020 grant funding will be utilized to support nonprofits across North Georgia helping those who are suffering because of this pandemic.

“NGCF believes it is our responsibility to help strengthen our community during a crisis like this. We are standing in the gap, supporting those organizations that are on the front lines providing direct assistance to those impacted.” Michelle Prater, NGCF President & CEO said.

Donations can continue to be to the NGCF's COVID-19 Relief Fund at

To find out more information about the United Way of Forsyth County and their services, visit

--- From staff reports

April 8, 2020

Local brewery to match donations up to $25,000 for Meals by Grace

NoFo Brew Co. announced on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, that it will match donations up to $25,000 to help Meals by Grace, a local nonprofit that provides food assistance to those in need.

NoFo Brew Co. announced Wednesday that is matching community donations up $25,000 to benefit Meals by Grace, a local nonprofit organization that provides food assistance to those in need. The fundraising effort runs through May 3.

To donate, text FEEDFOCO to 44321 or click here and put FEEDFOCO in the "honor of" category. 

Meals by Grace operates a food pantry, located at 432 Canton Road, and offers food delivery services in Dawson and Forsyth counties.

--- From staff reports

April 7, 2020

Pinecrest Academy surrounds hospital with prayers

The Pinecrest Academy community held a "rosary rally" at Northside Hospital Forsyth on Saturday. 

Participants gathered in the parking lot (with permission from the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office) and were led through the liturgy by Charlene Dougal, the school's director of advancement, while remaining in their cars. The group then circled the hospital praying for its health care workers and COVID-19 patients.

-- From staff reports

April 6, 2020

Socks' Love Barbecue, Mountain Lake Church team up to feed hospital workers

Staff at Northside Hospital Forsyth organize meals donated to employees by Gina and Paul Strickland on Monday, April 6, 2020. Strickland raised $1,400 in donations from members of Mountain Lake Church to purchase meals at Socks' Love Barbecue. (Photo for the Forsyth County News)

Gina and Paul Strickland, left, deliver meals to Northside Hospital Forsyth on Monday, April 6, 2020, for employees. The Stricklands raised $1,400 in donations from members of Mountain Lake Church to purchase meals at Socks' Love Barbecue. (Photo for the Forsyth County News)

Mountain Lake Church members Gina and Paul Strickland raised $1,400 in cash donations from fellow members to provide 100 employees at Northside Hospital Forsyth with meals from Socks' Love Barbecue.

Strickland delivered the meals to hospital staff on Monday, April 6, with the help of James Waldrop, a senior project manager at Northside, and his wife, Melissa, who are both members at Mountain Lake.

The Stricklands also devoted a portion of the funds raised to cover a tab at Socks' Love for local first responders.

-- From staff reports

April 3, 2020

Local road construction company hiring 

Plenty of businesses have been forced to cut down their hours or even close amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, fueling a record number of unemployment insurance claims in Georgia and across the U.S. But one local company is actually hiring.

Vertical Earth, a road construction company based in Forsyth County, is accepting online and phone applications for a host of positions at levels of the company, including CDL drivers, laborers, operators, estimators, superintendents and project managers.

The company said it needs "good people to apply and start immediately," according to Steve Vickery, president of Vertical Earth.

Road building qualifies as an "essential" business under Gov. Brian Kemp's recent shelter-in-place order that runs through April 13. Vickery said that Vertical Earth has implemented social distancing and hygiene directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OHSA.

Vertical Earth can be reached at 770-888-2224 or

-- From staff reports

Performing arts studio offering free classes during spring break

Yes, the kids will be on spring break next week, even though they've been at home since mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts is offering a host of daily classes on choreography, tap dancing and scenic design using LEGOs. The week of classes are also full of trivia nights, karaoke nights, scavenger hunts and family improv challenges.

Find a full list of classes at

-- From staff reports

April 1, 2020

Halcyon bakery offering cookie kits for families

One of the cookie kits that It's a Sweet Life bakery at Halcyon is starting to offer for families to enjoy during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo courtesy Halcyon)

It’s a Sweet Life bakery at Halcyon is now offering DIY cookie kits for customers of all ages to enjoy. 

The kits include 12 freshly-baked sugar cookies that come in three varying shapes, four different icing flavors, sprinkles and instructions for just $25. This week’s cookie themes include unicorns and rainbows and surfing, though themes will change weekly.

Customers can order their cookie kit online at and collect them at curbside pickup at It’s a Sweet Life’s Halcyon storefront at 6365 Halcyon Way, Suite 910.

Pick-ups are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and orders require 24 hours for fulfillment.

-- From staff reports

South Forsyth restaurant treats hospital ICU staff to lunch
Northside Hospital Forsyth nurses collect meals donated to the ICU staff by Purple Pansies, a local nonprofit, on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Photo courtesy Purple Pansies)

Purple Pansies, a local nonprofit organization, treated ICU staff members of Northside Hospital Forsyth to lunch from Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant on Wednesday, April 1.

In addition, the nonprofit partnered with Kroger, who donated gift cards to buy water and snacks.

Purple Pansies was founded in 2007 by Casa Nuova owner Maria Fundora after her mother died from pancreatic cancer. The nonprofit raises funding for research and provides assistance to those effected by pancreatic cancer.

-- From staff reports

Photographer launches 'front porch project' for local families

Brandy Craig’s photography business is booming, even in the middle of this social distancing-moment.

Neighborhoods have been calling on the Forsyth County resident to participate in her “front porch project,” which is exactly what it sounds like: Craig walks from home to home through subdivisions and takes a photo of families on their front porch from the social-distancing safety of the front yard or sidewalk.

Craig snaps two to three photos, picks the best one and uploads it to her social media account where the family can download it for free.

“I feel like I’m giving back in a way,” Craig said. “This community’s been so good to me as a photographer.”

You can read the full story here.

-- Brian Paglia