Cobb schools to start Monday-Thursday digital learning schedule

New Brumby Elementary School

The return from “spring break” will come with a new digital learning schedule for Cobb County School District students starting on Monday.

For the rest of the school year, they’ll be on a Monday-Thursday schedule, with Friday set aside for catching up on homework, reviewing student progress and more.

“No new work or assignments will be presented to students on Fridays,” the district announced Friday morning:

“We have been actively listening to the experiences of our students, parents, and teachers. In an environment that has changed much in our day-to-day lives, we have heard many examples of an entire community that is supporting learning in exciting, creative ways. We are also committed to listening and learning from those experiences so student learning can best continue for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.”

After in-person classes were cancelled for the rest of the year in Georgia public schools by Gov. Brian Kemp, Cobb schools issued academic guidance that includes pass/fail grading for students in K-8, and gives students the choice of accepting their grades as of March 13 (when schools closed) or continuing through the end of the school year.

Students on track to graduate as of March 13 also will be given credit for courses for which they were enrolled on or before that date.

The district also said it was exploring options on having some kind of graduation observance, but thus far hasn’t indicated anything beyond that.

Five full weeks of school remain, with the last day of classes on May 20.

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East Cobb Events Update: Marietta Greek Festival cancelled

Marietta Greek Festival

The organizers of the Marietta Greek Festival announced Thursday that this year’s event, scheduled for May 15-17, has been cancelled and will not be made up. Here’s the message that’s being sent out:

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, our utmost concern is for the health and safety of our guests, neighbors, and church family. We look forward to seeing you again in May 2021 – as always, the weekend after Mother’s Day!”

That was the last of the major spring festivals and events in East Cobb to announce a cancellation or postponement.

The May 2 Taste of East Cobb was called off last month, as was the Cobb Master Gardeners plant sale and expo and spring garden tour.

Another event that had been scheduled for April 18 will be held in the summer.

That’s the sendoff for retiring Temple Kol Emeth Rabbi Steven Lebow, whose Opus celebration is now taking place on July 18.

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If you have Coronavirus-related event changes, business openings or closings to share with the public, e-mail us: [email protected]

Contact us at the same e-mail address for news about efforts to assist those in need, health care workers, first responders and others on the frontlines of combatting Coronavirus in East Cobb.

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BREAKING NEWS: Georgia primary election delayed until June 9

Georgia runoff elections

The May 19 Georgia primary election has been delayed due to the Coronavirus crisis.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensparger announced Thursday that the presidential and general primaries will now take place on June 9.

His decision came the day after Gov. Brian Kemp extended the statewide shelter-in-place order through April 30, and a public health emergency until May 13.

“This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers,” Raffensparger said.

He had resisted calls from Georgia House Speaker Dennis Ralston and others to delay the elections due to the statewide response to COVID-19, which has claimed 370 lives and infected more than 10,000 people in the state.

The Georgia delay also comes two days after the Wisconsin primary took place following a legal battle in which the state’s Supreme Court overturned the governor’s attempt to postpone voting.

There were poll worker shortages reported and many polling places were closed and consolidated. Citizens showed up at polls waiting in long lines, not able to observe social distancing guidelines, to cast their ballots.

In his announcement Thursday, Raffensparger said there were concerns from county elections officials in southwest Georgia that they “could not overcome the challenges brought on by COVID-19 in time for in-person voting to begin on April 27.”

The Albany area and surrounding counties have been hard-hit by COVID-19, with a state-high 62 deaths reported in Dougherty County.

April 27 is the date early voting was to have begun, and it falls around the time a leading COVID-19 forecasting project is predicting the virus will reach its peak in Georgia.

The voter registration deadline has been pushed back to May 11, and early voting will take place on May 18.

Raffensparger had mailed out an absentee ballot application to all registered voters in Georgia, and the number of requests has overwhelmed county elections officials.

That includes Cobb Elections, which this week notified county voters that the Secretary of State’s vendor had not yet started mailing out absentee ballots.

According to Raffensparger, absentee ballot applications “will continue to be accepted and processed by counties even if the application said May 19. Once county election officials properly verify the signature on the application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot for the primary election now to be held on June 9.”

More information on absentee ballots can be found here.

The general primary includes voting for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by David Perdue, Congressional races, state legislative races, county commission contests, school board campaigns and judicial seats.

Any runoffs will now take place on Aug. 11.

The race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler will be a “jungle primary” held during the Nov. 3 general election.

The presidential preference primary had been moved to May 19 from its original date of March 24, but there won’t be anything unresolved on the ballot.

President Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate on the ballot, and former vice president Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign this week.

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Walton student aims to ‘do more’ with homeless non-profit

Walton student homeless non-profit
Walton student Emory Paul (center) delivers daily living supplies to homeless people in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. Photos courtesy of Soul Supplies

During his sophomore year a year ago at Walton High School, Emory Paul was a teenager with a mission to play a role helping homeless people in downtown Atlanta.

He started an organization called Soul Supplies to provide individuals with backpacks of toiletries, hygiene products and other daily living essentials.

Paul and a few others would travel to Woodruff Park and drop off those supplies. Along the way, he said he learned more about those who live on the streets but who remain largely invivisible.

“We want to humanize people,” Paul said. “They become homeless in many ways. Many of them have just fallen on hard times. We shake their hands, ask their names, try to get to know them.”

As a result, he estimates that he and Soul Supplies volunteers have helped more than 150 people, delivering 3,000 items that have been collected through donations, from more than 200 donors thus far.

Soul Supplies
Items collected by Soul Supplies to be distributed in backpacks.

“I’m excited with what we’ve done on a small scale,” Paul said, who got Soul Supplies started through the Giving Point Social Innovators Academy.

As his junior year comes to a close, Paul has been planning the next phase of his project. He just completed paperwork and other tasks to make Soul Supplies a non-profit, enabling it to partner with other organizations and businesses.

“I’ve always had a passion for helping the homeless,” he said. “I want to do more, but I just didn’t know how.”

Each backpack is filled with around $40-$50 in supplies—among other things soap, deodorant, brushes, handwipes, socks, lotion, non-perishable snacks, toothbrushes and toothpaste and water bottles.

Before heading to Woodruff Park, Paul said he researched where the need for such provisions would make sense. Some of those he meets do go to shelters on occasion, but the supplies are designed to be used wherever someone may spend time.

Soul Supplies is accepting donations of items for the backpacks—including the backpacks—as well as financial donations.

He said they’ll be glad to pick up items at your curbside, given the Coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

More information on getting involved can be found here, and a temporary PayPal link can be found here while Soul Supplies awaits its business account.

He’s also gotten involved with an organization called Atlanta Survival Program, which is helping provide food supplies for those affected by COVID-19.

Paul said this year he’d like to reach 1,000 people through Soul Supplies. “The sky’s the limit,” he said, because the need remains significant.

Soul Supplies


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U.S. Sen. Loeffler says she’ll liquidate individual stocks

After coming under fire for selling investments right before the Coronavirus outbreak, Georgia U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler said Wednesday she and her husband are liquidating their individual stock holdings and will be trading in exchange-traded and mutual funds from now on.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, the appointed successor to Johnny Isakson denied accusations of insider trading, and said she and her husband are changing their portfolios to “end media fixation” on the issue even though ethics provisions don’t require it.

Loeffler, who lives in Buckhead, was the chief executive of a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange, a commodity and financial service provider founded by her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher. He is also the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

Published reports indicated Loeffler and Sprecher bought and sold a total of $1.4 million in stock before financial markets suffered their worst fall since the recession in October 2008.

In the piece, entitled “I Never Traded on Confidential Coronavirus Information,” Loeffler wrote that she has never engaged in direct trading of investment accounts managed by third-party advisers, including Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs:

In its hunger to place blame, the media fixated on a fantasy of improper congressional trading, stemming from a Jan. 24 briefing I and other Senators attended with health officials. But based on contemporaneous reporting and public statements by the officials who provided the briefing, there was no material or nonpublic information discussed. All we did was meet public-health leaders and ask them questions about the emerging virus.

She referenced comments from Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut about the briefing that “what I heard in response to many questions is a tentative answer. . . . We need to know more.”

The full text of Loeffler’s op-ed was distributed to media outlets by her campaign.

Loeffler, a Republican appointed in December by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill Isakson’s unexpired term, is up for election in November.

She’ll be in a “jungle” primary that includes Republican Congressman Doug Collins of northwest Georgia, who was lobbying to be appointed and has been critical of her stock market activities.

In her op-ed, Loeffler said she expected attacks once she began her election campaign, “but these allegations go well beyond what should be considered acceptable. We have spent our entire lives building careers based on integrity and hard work.

“My family’s investment accounts are being used as weapons for an assault on my character at a time when we should all be focused on making our country safe and strong.”

The winner of the November election will serve out the final two years of Isakson’s term.


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Georgia shelter-in-place, public health emergency extended

Kemp extends Georgia public health emergency


Gov. Brian Kemp also has extended a statewide shelter-in-place order through the end of April. It was also set to expire on April 13.

Gyms, bars and places where people gather will stay closed, as will restaurants for dining service.

People are asked to limit travel for necessary shopping such as food and medical care, but to observe social distancing measures.

Churches, synagogues and other places of worship as well as funerals are allowed if no more than 10 people attend, also following social distancing protocols.

But many faith communities have been conducting virtual services for several weeks, and are doing so for Passover and Easter observances this week.

The governor’s extended order Wednesday afternoon also places further obligations on senior, nursing and long-term care homes to help stop the spread of the virus.

Many facilities have been barring visitors, serving residents meals in their rooms and cancelling group activities.

Those facilities also must now incorporate infectious disease transfer procedures with nearby hospitals.

Elderly people comprise a major number of COVID-19 cases. In Georgia, the median age of those dying from the virus is 74, and in Cobb it’s around 70.


A public health emergency in Georgia that was set to expire on April 13 has been extended another month by Gov. Brian Kemp.

He announced Wednesday that as a result, he would not request a special session of the Georgia General Assembly, similar to a one-day session last month that approved his initial declaration, which includes an expansion of emergency powers due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

That legislative session tentatively had been scheduled for April 15. But under state law, a Georgia governor can renew a public health emergency without the approval of lawmakers.

“This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities,” Kemp said in a statement that was jointly issued with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker Dennis Ralston.

“In these unprecedented times, we ask Georgians for their continued patience and prayers, especially for first responders, law enforcement, and the healthcare workers caring for the medically fragile. They are going above and beyond to keep us all safe, and we will never be able to repay them for their sacrifices.”

UPDATED: As of noon Wednesday, 9,901 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in Georgia, with 362 deaths and 1,993 hospitalizations.

Cobb County has 588 confirmed cases and 29 deaths, both among the highest figures in the state. For a larger version of the map below, click here.

GA COVID Map 4.8.20

Georgia has tested relatively few people compared to other states, with 38,707 individuals in all. The state’s public health agency has set up drive-through testing centers around Georgia, including one at Jim Miller Park in Cobb County.

But only individuals identified in vulnerable populations, health care workers, first responders and those with a medical referral are allowed to get those tests.

The entire legislature was self-quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 by colleagues. Among those testing positive was State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick of East Cobb, who is recovering after undergoing a quarantine period.

Extending the public health emergency has no bearing on a statewide shelter-in-place ordered by Kemp through April 13.

That order restricts all business and other activities to 10 people or less, observing social distancing measures.

Families and individuals must also shelter-in-place except for essential travel and business or immediate family reasons.

Those businesses or operations not deemed to be part of the “critical infrastructure” will be limited to what the order calls “minimum basic operations,” also following social distancing and hygiene and sanitation practices.

Other “personal touch” businesses also must close, including bowling alleys, cinemas and live performance theaters.

Kemp will have a public briefing on the state’s Coronavirus response at 4 p.m. Wednesday. It can be seen live on Georgia Public Broadcasting or the governor’s Facebook Live page.

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Sprayberry Crossing update: Revised plans, intent to purchase announced

Sprayberry Crossing rendering

Some major news on the Sprayberry Crossing redevelopment front:

Atlantic Residential, which had proposed a site plan for its mixed-use plans last fall, then stepped back after opposition surfaced, has announced it’s on agreement to acquire the 15 acres of land at East Piedmont Road and Sandy Plains Road where the blighted shopping center has stood for many years.

Joe Glancy, a leader of group of citizens organized on Facebook announced late Monday that the redevelopment proposal is back on again, and stated that he and Shane Spink, another group leader, “are not involved with the administration of it.”

The new Atlantic Residential plans are located at a new website,, which includes fresh renderings, a video presentation and a revised site plan.

Here’s what’s being proposed now:
  • Atlantic Residential would add 30,000 square feet of space for a “national grocer” and slice the amount of other retail space down from around 10,000 square feet in the original site plan to 8,200 square feet;
  • 12,000 square feet of co-working space;
  • 177 apartment rental units (down from 195);
  • 120 senior living residential units;
  • 56 townhomes (down from 62);
  • a town green and secondary courtyard;
  • a walking and biking trail connecting East Piedmont Road to Post Oak Tritt Road.

The buildings would be anywhere from two to four stories with a modern classic design.

Sprayberry Crossing site plan

The new site plan also incorporates an existing cemetery, which had been the cause of much of the opposition. Some family members of those buried there have been adamantly against moving any remains to an area near the close-by Sandy Plains Baptist Church Cemetery.

We’ll be following up this story with more details, but Atlantic Residential for now is saying it wants to have a community presentation with public feedback.

That’s probably going to be virtual for now given the Coronavirus crisis.

These plans also willl require a zoning process that would appear to be some months away.

The tentative timeline for the redevelopment calls for demolition and site work in the first quarter of 2021 and construction ending in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Glancy said in Monday’s message to the Sprayberry Crossing Action group that in his dealings with the developers, “they have been forthright, honest and open in their dealings with me. They have given me no reason to suspect that will not continue.”


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East Cobb synagogue to start Passover with ‘Zoom Seder’

East Cobb synagogue Zoom Seder

Last year, Congregation Etz Chaim held its first Passover Seder at the synagogue on Indian Hills Parkway, a departure from the tradition of starting the solemn Jewish observance in family homes.

This year, the in-person Seder had been called off due to renovation work at Etz Chaim’s social hall. But for the last few weeks, as many faith communities have been resorting to virtual worship due to Coronavirus restrictions, the synagogue is gathering its congregation together after all, online, to mark the first night of Passover.

What Rabbi Daniel Dorsch calls a “Zoom Seder” will begin the eight days of Passover right before sundown on Wednesday. The seder is aimed at families and children but is accessible to anyone, and is part of a new ritual that has had clergy and congregants alike scrambling to get connected and share their faith.

“I’m working differently than I ever have before,” admitted Dorsch, whose synagogue has had a fairly active social media and online presence.

Like many businesses and organizations, the Etz Chaim faithful are meeting via Facebook Live streaming and on Zoom, a business teleconferencing tool that has become an increasingly popular way to stay in touch.

Many churches in East Cobb also have been using Facebook Live and Zoom in recent weeks, and are making similar plans during Holy Week this week, culminating in Easter Sunday.

Etz Chaim has used Zoom for several worship services, including Havdalah, or the end of the Shabbat, last Saturday (screenshot above).

Dorsch—who’s shown in the bottom center photo— said it’s far from ideal not to have everyone together for worship, especially during special occasions like Passover. But the changes have resulted in a few silver linings, including outreach to those who’ve been homebound.

“I’ve gotten some very touching e-mails from people saying how much they appreciate it,” he said.

“This is a time when it’s really needed.”

Recently more than 100 households connected via Zoom for a service, a strong number given Etz Chaim’s membership is at around 600 families.

Dorsch said some members who haven’t been attending in person are participating online, “so they can be in touch.”

Reverting the Seder on the first night of Passover to the home environment, he said, is a good learning opportunity for younger people to become more active in the event and absorb the rituals of the observance.

He said there are some congregants who’ve told him online worship “isn’t the same thing,” and he and other synagogue leaders have been working to contact all members by phone to see how they’re doing during what figures to be an extended absence.

Etz Chaim also has postponed bar and bat mitzvahs and other special events, although Dorsch has presided over two funerals with social distancing measures in place.

As the online Passover viewing schedule was finalized, a special e-mail went out to Etz Chaim members, wishing them a “a zissin Pesach!,” or Happy Passover.

“At least we can be together this way,” Dorsch said. “We can still be together.”

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Georgia Power suspending disconnections after getting PSC approval

Submitted information:Georgia Power suspending disconnections

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to have unprecedented impacts on the state, Georgia Power’s suspension of disconnections is being extended following a vote by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). The company originally announced it would suspend disconnects in mid-March for at least 30 days to assist customers through this challenging time. Today’s vote extends the decision beyond the original timeframe, assuring customers that the suspension of disconnects will remain in place as the pandemic continues to impact customers in the state.

“We recognize the extraordinary burden the COVID-19 pandemic has put upon our state and our customers,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “We commend the Commissioners for their vote to extend the disconnect suspension and allow for special customer payment provisions. It is going to take all of us continuing to think about how we can support each other to see our communities through this uncertain time.”

In addition to today’s measure, Georgia Power expects the PSC will vote next month on the company’s request to lower its Fuel Cost Recovery allowance, which would lower monthly bills by approximately $5 for the typical residential customer using 1,000 kwh per month, if approved. The lower rate would go into effect in June 2020.

As part of their action, the PSC is also joining Georgia Power in encouraging all customers to continue making payments to avoid large balance due amounts when the suspension ends. The company will also look to implement special payment plans to help customers catch up on past-due amounts once disconnections are reinstated based on the direction from the Commission.

Online Bill Payment Options

With Governor Kemp’s recent shelter in place order, the company reminds customers of online bill payment options. Customers can pay their bill online on with a credit or debit card or with a checking or savings account. The company has eliminated fees associated with credit and debit card payments. Customers can also pay via the Georgia Power Mobile App, which can be downloaded for free from both the App Store (Apple) and Google Play Store (Android).

Rate Plan Options

Georgia Power is also increasing its emphasis on rate plan offerings such as FlatBill and PrePay. FlatBill offers a fixed monthly bill regardless of a customer’s usage during the period. That means no rising bills during summer’s heat or winter’s cold – just one flat amount. PrePay puts customers in control of when they pay for their electricity and allows them to pay as they go with a PrePay account. As customers use electricity, their balance is reduced. This flexibility allows customers to better manage their budget and energy usage with no deposit requirement, no credit check and no reconnect fees. Smart Usage, Nights & Weekends and other options also help customers find a plan that fits their budget and lifestyle. Learn more at

Tips, Tools & Resources

Georgia Power encourages its customers to use online tools to help manage their energy such as the My Power Usage program, a free service connected to many Georgia Power online accounts that allows customers to track their daily energy use, project their monthly bill, and set daily or monthly usage alerts.

Customers can take advantage of the company’s free Online Energy Checkup. The 15-minute quick and easy service provides a customized report to help customers understand their energy use and find ways to save money where you can use your actual power bills to give you a customized report. You will enter information about your home and family to measure how you use energy. Whether customers own a home or rent, tailored tips are available at, which also includes access to a variety of rebates and incentives for both homes and businesses. Energy efficiency measures for customers include continued development and implementation of new plans and programs approved in the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

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Cobb Census response rate broken down by public library district

Cobb Census response map

Cobb County government is urging 2020 Census participation during this shelter-in-place time by sending out a response map according to public library districts.

Those living in the East Cobb and Mountain View library districts had the highest response at 59.6 and 58.5 percent, respectively, and the West Cobb and Kemp zones are the others with more than 50 percent responses.

There’s much more searchable and sortable response rate data here; you can look at county and city figures, as well as by Congressional District and Census tracts.

Overall, according to a message the county sent out Monday, Cobb’s response rate is 46 percent, as of Saturday, April 4. That’s just above the national average of 45.7 percent and above the Georgia statewide rate of 43.2 percent.

The 6th Congressional District has a 50.9 percent response rate and in the map below there are a few Census tracts in East Cobb (indicated in dark blue) that have response rates of 70 percent or higher. Click here for a larger map:

6th GA CD Census Response Rate Map

Here’s more from the county’s message about what Census information is used for:

We want to ensure Cobb County has a thorough and accurate 2020 Census count, so the appropriate funds and resources are available to our community. The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. The data impacts Head Start programs, school lunches, plans for highways, affordable housing and support for firefighters and families in need. It also determines our representation in government. 

The U.S. Census Bureau has been encouraging online participation all along, well before the Coronavirus outbreak. Details and completion forms are available by clicking here.


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Deadline nears for B’nai Brith Enlighten America Essay Contest

B'nai Brith Enlighten America essay contest

Submitted information from the Achim/Gate City Lodge Atlanta chapter of B’nai Brith International:

Enlighten America, our annual Essay Contest for 7th thru 9th-grade students encourages respect and tolerance of our friends’ and neighbors’ diverse religious beliefs and racial/cultural backgrounds. Learn how to enter this contest by reading this document. All entries must be received by Friday, April 10, 2020. Winners will be announced in mid-May, 2020. 

Winners in each grade category will receive the prizes listed below: 

  • First-place winners will be awarded $350. 
  • Second-place winners will be awarded $250. 
  • Third-place winners will be awarded $150. 

The Enlighten America Essay Contest serves as a framework or “model of instruction” designed to support teachers in the implementation of the Reading and Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Grades 6-8, Grades 9 and the English Language Arts (ELA) Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) (see pages 19 -25 for specific standards) for 7th grade, 8th grade, and 9th grade in the following writing skill areas: 

  • Text Types and Purposes 
  • Production and Distribution of Writing 
  • Research to Build and Present Knowledge 
  • Range of Writing 

We hope that schools, teachers, and students will benefit through the Enlighten America Essay Contest as a teaching and learning activity to promote student success as it relates to the Georgia Performance Standards. 


You can get more details by clicking there; the organization also is noting that the awards ceremony has been rescheduled to Aug. 30 due to the Coronavirus.

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Cobb Senior Services activities cancelled through April

East Cobb Senior Center
Submitted information from Cobb Senior Services:
  • All activities at senior centers are cancelled through April, including Spring registration.
  • Change the Way You Age EXPO has been rescheduled to August 12. 
  • We are seeking donations of non-perishable items and toiletries for our existing clients.  Visit for the list and feel free to share it. Note: we are only accepting donations on M W F so please call 770-528-2009 to make delivery arrangements or if you have questions.

The foods and items suggested include the following:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Instant oatmeal/grits
  • Dried fruit
  • Chewy granola bars
  • Breakfast bars
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Dried fruit
  • Juice boxes
  • Cereal-small, individual boxes
  • Shelf stable milk
  • Chicken/tuna/other canned meats
  • Microwave rice
  • Crackers
  • Canned Soup
  • Canned vegetables
  • Fruit cups
  • Canned fruit
  • Macaroni & cheese cups
  • Dried mashed potatoes (flakes)
  • Spaghetti O’s/ Ravioli
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Baby wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Toiletries: soap, shampoo, etc)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes

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