Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 38

Hometown HEROES
By Amber Lanier Nagle
Sandersville woman
advocates for foster
children
A
llison Wilkinson, of Sandersville, cringed as she read
the words.
" The article said that most kids in the foster care
system use garbage bags to carry their clothes and personal
items, " she recalls. " The thought of these traumatized
kids being given trash bags to hold all of their worldly
possessions just broke my heart. I thought, 'This can't
be true.' "
She called her mother-in-law, who worked for the
Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS),
and verified that plastic bags are standard issue for youths
entering the foster care system. The news hit a little too
close to home for the mother of two.
" We adopted our first son, " she says. " He could have
just as easily been admitted into the foster care system-
shuffled from one foster home to another, with his belongings
thrown in a plastic sack. That's just unacceptable. "
In 2016, she launched an effort to collect suitcases,
duffle bags and backpacks for foster children. She filled
them with teddy bears, blankets, hygiene kits, socks, books,
toys, school supplies, crayons and, most importantly, love.
" Every time I told someone what I was doing, they
offered to help me, " she says. " Friends, family, churches
and businesses-everyone helped. I'd get to work and find
my office chair full of book bags, stuffed animals and other
items that people around the community had donated. The
project just took on a life of its own. "
Her mission needed a name. Wilkinson had begun
competing in pageants as a way to build confidence and
motivate herself to lose some extra weight she'd gained
during her pregnancy. She has won several titles and is the
reigning Mrs. Georgia Petite. She notes that pageants offer
her a public forum to spread awareness about her cause.
" Someone called me the 'queen of bags' one day,
combining my mission of collecting bags with the term
'beauty queen,' and the name stuck. "
In 2020, she launched her 501(c)(3) nonprofit organiDid
you know ...
* Nov. 19 is National
Adoption Day. According to
fostergeorgia.com, there
were 11,921 children in
foster care in Georgia as
of last August.
* You can reach out to your
local Division of Family and
Children Services (DFCS) to
make a donation that serves
children in your community.
38 Georgia Magazine May 2022
zation, The Queen of Bags. To date, Wilkinson and her
helpers (she calls them " sister queens " ) have collected and
delivered between 1,500 and 2,000 backpacks and duffle
bags to organizations serving foster children in Georgia and
throughout the U.S. The organization also provides Easter
baskets and Christmas presents for children in the system.
In addition to their work with The Queen of Bags,
How to help
To learn more or to send a
donation, visit allisonwilkinson.org
or send an email to allybwilkinson@
gmail.com. Donated items for the
bags are also accepted.
Wilkinson and her family advocate for adoption services
and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
" It's about showing these beautiful children that their
lives matter and that we care, " Wilkinson says. " [The Queen
of Bags] is about so much more than giving kids bags. It's
about giving them hope. "
Amber Lanier Nagle is a freelance writer living in
Adairsville.
ERIC WILKINSON
http://www.fostergeorgia.com http://www.allisonwilkinson.org

Georgia Magazine - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - May 2022

Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 4
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 5
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 6
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 7
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 8
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 9
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Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 38
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover4
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