Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Clark Howard's 27th foster kids Christmas gift drive still needs help

Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Consumer guru Clark Howard has managed to provide gifts every year for every foster child in Georgia for 27 years through his annual Clark Christmas Kids drive each year on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB.

He is often nervous before the conclusion, fretting that his listeners may not come through.

This year is no different. Unfortunately, the snow that arrived on Friday forced him to cancel events at Wal-Marts in Milton and Buford that can't be made up . There were 10 scheduled events at Wal-Marts across the region over 11 days, including the one I visited in Duluth Saturday afternoon. (It was postponed three hours and extended until 5 p.m. to accommodate the snow.)

Dave Baker, home of the Home Fix It Show on WSB, joined Howard Saturday. Both have been at WSB for more than a quarter century.

UPDATE 12/13/2017: Good news! Clark Howard told Eric Von Haessler today that people contributed enough money to ensure they can get gifts to all the foster children this Christmas after all. A Christmas miracle!

Howard said the opioid crisis has broken apart families at an alarming rate in Georgia, which has seen its foster child population skyrocket in the past few years. In 2015, there were 6,800. Last year, that number jumped to 8,500. This year? A record 9,100.

RELATED: MyAJC national investigation shows doctors still overprescribe opioids

Folks who show up at Wal-Marts can sift through sheets in which each foster child - from infants to 17 year olds - requests three gifts. People purchase those gifts and then hand them to the volunteers.

Over the past three years, he has gotten a major boost from the Society of St.Vincent de Paul, which coordinates volunteers, collection of the gifts and distribution to the children statewide. Howard said more kids have had to be placed in less than ideal group homes because there are not enough foster families.

Howard said his drive really needs the generosity of his listeners to come through so no kids are disappointed come Christmas day.

Here are details for the final two collection sites. Howard is scheduled to appear at the Marietta site tomorrow if you want to meet him in person. You can also donate online here.

  • Sunday, December 10: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Cobb Pkwy –  210 South Cobb Parkway, Marietta, GA 30060
  • Sunday, December 10: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Lawrenceville – 4004 Lawrenceville Highway NW, Lilburn, GA 30047
Davis Shaw and his six-year-old son Kellon talk to Clark Howard live on the radio. Producer Christa DiBiase (left) has worked with Clark for 20 years. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Justin Tysinger, promotions at WSB, informs a customer about how Clark Christmas Kids work. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Tony Nix of Duluth awaits his partner, who is finishing shopping for an eight-year-old in Catoosa County. This is at least his fifth year doing this. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Dave Baker, the man who can fix anything and hosts a weekly show on WSB, helps out Clark Howard at the Wal-Mart in Duluth. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Veronica Andrada of Buford has adopted foster kids, including 14-year-old Amber, who was in foster care for seven months before Veronica adopted her. They both feel a deep desire to give back to foster kids.CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Justin Tysinger helps ready bags for toys and other gifts. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Ken Ribo, a Wal-Mart employee, takes gifts to a tractor-trailer to be sorted. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Lisa and Haley Thompson of Suwanee spend more than two hours collecting gifts for six foster children. "It makes you feel good on Christmas morning," Lisa said. "We have made this a family tradition." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
George Thomas works for St. Vincent de Paul. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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