Kemp Offers Advice on Charitable Giving This Holiday Season

Secretary of State Brian Kemp offers advice to Georgians planning to donate to charitable organizations during this year’s holiday season. Kemp wants donors to be confident that funds are solicited honestly and used for the promised purposes before making any charitable donation.

“During the holiday season, individuals and families increasingly look for ways to lend a helping hand to those in need, and charitable giving is the lifeblood for many vital activities in our communities,” stated Secretary Kemp. “Before making a charitable contribution, I encourage all well-meaning donors to familiarize themselves with the organization to ensure their gift will go to the charity’s cause in a meaningful way.”

Secretary Kemp issues the following tips for charitable giving to Georgians:

– Research charities before you contribute. A number of online resources can help you research charities. The Better Business Bureau, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving AllianceGuideStarCharity Navigator, and Charity Watch provide detailed information about charitable organizations. Also, take time to review the organization’s own website.

– Take the time to make sure that your money is really going to help those in need. Ask how much of your donation will go to the cause.  The percentage of your contribution that a charity spends on fundraising activities, employee salaries, or expenses which do not directly support the charity’s stated mission varies greatly by organization.

– Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. If you are solicited by phone, ask the individual to put the request in writing and provide detailed information and material about the charity and its program. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity.

– Never give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information to a telephone solicitor. Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or business to pick up your contribution. Avoid sending cash donations. Donate by credit card or mail a check directly to the charity. Do not make payments to individuals. If your contribution exceeds $250, you should receive a letter from the charity confirming its charitable status as well as the amount of your donation.

– If a tax deduction is important to you, make sure the organization has a tax-deductible status with the Internal Revenue Service. “Tax exempt,” “non-profit”, and “tax-deductible” are not synonymous. Only “tax-deductible” means your contribution is deductible on your income tax return. If you contribute to a charity, make sure you get a receipt which shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax-deductible. The IRS has a searchable database (“Exempt Organizations Check”) of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

– Not all organizations with charitable-sounding names are actually charities. Many organizations adopt names confusingly similar to well-known charities. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution.

The Charities Division encourages Georgians to contact division staff if they receive suspicious charitable solicitations. To report suspicious activity, call (404) 654-6023. You can also email to submit a complaint.

Georgia Cancer Specialists, Northside Hospital Collect Suitcases for Foster Children

Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS) and Northside Hospital are hosting the 15th annual totes 2 tots drive to collect backpacks and suitcases for foster children in Georgia. Donations of new or nearly new backpacks, duffel bags and suitcases will be accepted at locations across the state:

  • Thursday, 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., GCS Camp Creek and Hawkinsville, Ga. locations
  • Friday, 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., all other GCS locations in Georgia
  • Saturday, 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., New Apostolic Church, Columbus, Ga.

More than 13,000 children, from infants to teenagers, are currently in the foster care system in Georgia. Many of these children shuffle their belongings in garbage bags when they are removed from their homes. totes 2 tots aims to change that by giving every foster child in Georgia a new or gently used backpack, duffel bag or suitcase. Since totes 2 tots launched in 2003, the annual volunteer event has collected and distributed more than 48,000 bags.

GCS and Northside Hospital partner with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to distribute the bags in the counties in which they’re collected. Bobby Cagle, director of DFCS, praised those who support the program, which helps to bring a measure of comfort and respect to Georgia’s foster children.

“The totes 2 tots program allows foster children the ability to transport their belongings with a sense of dignity,” said Cagle. “By providing backpacks and luggage, the program offers a sense of stability during a time of uncertainty.”

totes 2 tots was originally held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a way to honor Dr. King’s vision of philanthropy and give back to the community. The event is now held the preceding Thursday-Saturday to kick-off a weekend of service in his honor.

“Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly;’ that is why the [GCS] physicians and staff take pride in celebrating his memory by participating in totes 2 tots for the 15th consecutive year,” said Dr. Cheryl Jones, vice president and chief medical officer at GCS.

WSB-TV Family 2 Family has signed on as the media partner for totes 2 tots for a 12th year. Additional support is being provided by Courier Express.

For more information about totes 2 tots and a list of drop-off locations, visit To make a secure online donation, visit

The Bowen Center for the Arts Call to Artists & Writers

The Bowen Center for the Arts announces its Call to Artists & Writers for its Round Up Western Art & Literary Show to exhibit March 10 through April 21, 2017.

This juried event will attract artists and writers from the Southeast to compete for the over $1,500 in prizes and awards. Deadline to enter is January 20, 2017. Artists may submit up to three entries in 2D or 3D, and Writers may enter up to two entries of under 1,000 words each. The theme is Western, Southwest, Pioneer, Farm or Ranch.

There’ll be plenty going on as the Sheriff and Posse head over to the Bowen Ranch March 10th to kickoff this event at the Hoedown and Awards. Also on display will be collections, historical artifacts and photo opportunities in the old timey jail or on a buckin’ bronc.

Entries are available online at, via email or at The Bowen Ranch (Bowen Center for the Arts) located just North of the Historic Square in Dawsonville at 334 Highway 9 North. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10-4 and Saturday 12-4.