According to the Georgia Department of Human Services, last year there were approximately 7,700 children living in our state in foster care. Of Georgia children living under the auspices of the Division of Family and Children Services, 30 percent have been in the system for more than two years, according to state statistics from the governor's office. Nearly 70 percent of those children are younger than 12.
These children come from a wide variety of backgrounds and situations. They are children of all ages and races. The children in most need of homes are children with special needs, including teenagers, siblings and children with physical, emotional and/or behavioral disabilities.
Each year in January the Totes 2 Tots campaign is held both statewide and locally to collect new or nearly new backpacks, suitcases, duffel bags, diaper bags and other age-appropriate carry items for foster children who unfortunately often must undergo frequent relocations during their childhoods.
Each year this volunteer drive, launched in 2003 by Georgia Cancer Specialists, coincides with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in an effort to honor and help fulfill Dr. King's vision for service and giving back to the community. Since the campaign began, more than 30,000 bags have been collected.
In 2010, the Milledgeville GCS office surpassed its goal of collecting 600 bags with the help of Georgia College volunteers and community donations - collecting nearly 1,500 bags. GCS partners with the DFCS in this endeavor each year to lessen in some way the stress on these children.
Imagine packing up all of your possessions to move from one residence to another with only limited options and resources for storing your personal belongings.
While it may be difficult for most of us to fathom, this is a reality for many of Georgia's children.
The Totes 2 Tots drive aims to help in the transition from home to home.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Georgia, call 1-877-210-KIDS for more details or visit the Division of Family and Children Services' website, www.dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov. To help out a foster child in need take time to donate to the Totes 2 Tots campaign. Donations of totes and bags can be dropped off at the Milledgeville GCS office starting Monday, Jan. 6.
For more information call the local GCS office at 478-453-1806 ext. 19.