'Winter Wonderland' helps local families in need with food, toys for the holidays

Posted at 6:35 AM, Dec 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 22:43:21-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It would not be Christmas without the holiday music, the poinsettias, even the toys, but for Nick Johnson and his children, it would not be Christmas without something more sentimental.

"It's going to be memories,” Johnson said. “They're never going to forget this, it's the memories."

They came to "Winter Wonderland,” an event meant to share in that holiday cheer and make memories -- even when the coronavirus pandemic may have stripped happiness and joy from the rest of the year.

"Everything is a challenge, but I feel that if I'm mentally prepared, everything that's hard will be easier,” Johnson said. “Especially when you have people helping out, making sure everything is a bit more easier."

That hope was made possible by Virginia Beach-based church, Joy Ministries and its founder, Danette Crawford.

“This is going to be a holiday of hope,” Crawford told News 3. “All of us have gone through so many challenges this year, but we're here to celebrate and we're here to help."

It's the first year the ministry hosted “Winter Wonderland.” The families get to enjoy a nice meal and a lot of other activities throughout the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, while making sure COVID-19 guidelines were met.

"I always say, ‘we've got to keep it moving,’” Crawford said, and that's exactly what we've done."

While the children are having lunch, the parents went into a room to pick a toy for their children. All of these toys being made possible by generous donations.

"Well we want to thank Channel 3 and Barbara Ciara and all of our viewers with Holiday Helpers,” Crawford said. “All of these toys here were given by our supporters there and our other partners."

There were other activities the children and their families participated in. That included making crafts and decorating sugar cookies.