VIRGINIA BEACH, Va - Tuesday is a day of giving in Hampton Roads. Give Local 757 is all about raising money for local non-profit organizations that strengthen the community.
“We’re working hard this year with Give Local," said Joy Rios, the founder and Executive Director of Connect With A Wish.
Connect With A Wish helps foster children who are pulled out of their homes. After losing a major sponsor, Rios says she looks forward to raising money on Give Local 757 Day.
“This is our second year that we’ve lost our largest fundraiser, the Pungo Wine Festival. We are truly working hard to fundraiser so we can feel the needs and continue to grow as we have expanded some of our fundraisers to the other cities. We are really counting on it tomorrow to be able to help supplement the money we would have made with our big fundraiser.“
One of Rios' daily tasks is filling bags for foster kids while also filling a void.
“These bags are kept on site with human services, and they are filled and labeled by age and gender. Say there’s a 7-year-old boy that’s going to be removed from his home that evening - the worker knows to grab the 7-year-old bag and beside, we have pajamas, a blanket and all the toiletries needed. A book, a stuffed animal.”
Many children don’t have the basics when they are pulled from their foster home.
“When we thought of the program, we asked the teenagers. I said, 'What do you wish you had that first night when you had to stay with a stranger?' because in essence, that’s what’s happening to them - they’re coming out of a bad situation to stay with a stranger that night. The last thing they want to do is ask for stuff."
Rios started the program seven years ago and says their goal is to make sure no child goes without what they need.
“We thought, 'Okay, a flashlight - didn’t think of that. Chapstick and tissue.' So, we took their list, our list and the social worker list and combined it, and we feel those bags kind of like a hamster wheel because kids are always going into care. They use those bags. They reach us and say, 'Hey, we just took a 4-year old-girl bag last night... can you fill that up?'"
You can donate to Connect With A Wish on through Give Local 757