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Suitcase drive helps foster children
Collection ends Friday at office
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Forsyth County News

How to help
New and gently used backpacks and child-sized suitcases will be collected from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Cumming office of Georgia Cancer Specialists, Suite 270 of the 1400 Building at Northside-Hospital Forsyth.

A local medical office hopes to make life a bit easier for children in foster care.

Georgia Cancer Specialists will hold the annual Totes 2 Tots event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at all 22 of its locations statewide, including one in Cumming.

The event collects donations of new or gently used backpacks and child-sized suitcases. It was originally slated for Jan. 14, but was rescheduled to Friday after last week's winter storm.

Georgia Cancer Specialists launched the collection effort in 2003 and has distributed more than 22,000 bags over the years. In 2010, some 4,200 were collected.

Leaders feel the event is important since children in foster care have to shuffle their belongings from home to home, often using garbage bags.

Teresa Ringo, patient service representative with the Cumming office, said the drive was the brain child of an employee at another location who had foster children.

"[The children] all came to her with all their belongings in garbage bags," Ringo said. "The message was they weren't worth anything, they were the garbage."

Ringo said after the employee's experience, the business decided to hold the annual drive.

While the Cumming office has just five staff members, Ringo said they "work hard to make sure [the drive's] a success."

"The past few years, we've collected about 300 something bags," she said. "We're very grateful that the local community has embraced this event."

Ringo added that while the official drive is Friday, the office will accept donations before then.

"We're happy to take them any time through 2 p.m. Friday," she said.