School supplies needed for foster children

By Trina Trice

Mary Thompson of Morrow wants her three foster children to go back to school with everything they need.

"School supplies are getting more and more expensive every year," Thompson said. "When you have more than one (foster child) it can be quite a bit of money."

Thompson has been a foster parent for more than five years to children who are 5, 11, and 16 years of age.

Back-to-school campaigns, such as "School Tools for Cool Kids," could help Thompson's foster children get the supplies they'll need for school.

The campaign began July 12 at participating Publix Supermarkets.

To participate individuals can purchase prepackaged $2, $3, $4, and $5 priced school supply bags at the front of Publix stores.

Thompson is one of many foster parents working with the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services in helping more than 500 children in foster care.

About two-thirds of those children are of school age, said Cathy Ratti, executive director of Clayton County DFCS.

More than 9,000 children statewide are under the care of their local DFCS.

Philip Kouns, executive director of Rainbow House, hopes Clayton County residents won't forget his organization this year. Rainbow House provides shelter for abused children.

"We admit over 300 children a year," he said. "We go through a lot of supplies. We're always needing underwear and socks and waterless soap would be good, too."

Another campaign is being organized to help single parents.

"Give a Kid a Chance," sponsored by the Georgia Community Services Program, is a back-to-school outreach event at New Mount Calvary Church in Morrow.

Several rooms will meet the different needs of family preparing to send its children back to school, according to Dometrice Scandrick, director of the program.

"In one room there is new clothing," she said. "In the next room are new book bags packed with school supplies. Then, from room to room, the children will receive haircuts and dental, hearing, and eye exams."

There are 16 "Give a Kid a Chance" events scheduled to help 8,000 children in Atlanta, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Ohio areas.

Donations of $20 per child are being sought from local individuals and businesses.

"Every $20 becomes $160 worth of goods and services," Scandrick said. "It takes many civic, religious, and charitable organizations partnering with businesses and individuals?to pull a program of this magnitude together."