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ForKids gambles on support

ForKids is encouraging its supporters to prove they are not willing to gamble with the future of area children by risking a little money next month at a Casino Night fundraiser.

“We need to raise $250,000 for our general funding for our programs that assist families experiencing homelessness and near-homelessness,” said Priscilla Monti, ForKids’ spokeswoman.

The organization operates the Suffolk House homeless shelter on Finney Avenue, as well as a homeless shelter and transitional housing in Norfolk, and offers a variety of support services to keep families facing potential homelessness in their homes.

The fundraising event will be held March 12 at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel in downtown Norfolk. In addition to the casino night, an art auction will feature 10 pieces by local professional artists and 10 pieces by young ForKids clients, all professionally matted and framed with quotes from the children.

“The event is going to be fabulous,” Monti said.

This year marks the ninth year ForKids has held an art auction. The works typically sell in the thousands, Monti said — two years ago, a piece of children’s art went for $11,000.

This year, a casino night has been added to the festivities to help raise more money, Monti said. Attendees will buy “ForKids cash” to gamble with at blackjack, craps and roulette, and can redeem their winnings for prizes at the end of the night.

“The real winners, of course, will be the children and families of the ForKids programs,” Monti said.

The night also will feature a jazz act, the Jae Sinnett Trio, along with heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages and fun. The $250,000 ForKids hopes to raise makes up about one-sixth of the organization’s community contribution budget, which in turn is roughly half of the total budget.

The fundraising night is more important than ever this year, as the economy has lead to a loss of funding, Monti said.

“The sluggish economy has led to significant downturn in corporate contributions and in government funding,” Monti said. “It is really more important than ever that everybody jumps in and helps, because the money is not there. It’s not coming in.”

The organization has received several sponsors and in-kind sponsors for the event to help offset the costs of putting on the show, Monti said.

“The less money we spend, the more money we can raise to go right into our programs,” Monti said. “These families need our help. Without ForKids, these families will have no one to turn to.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for the event, visit www.homesforkids.org.