ForKids seeking donations

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Donations: Volunteers sort food donated during last year’s food drive for ForKids families. Those receiving assistance from the organization can trade vouchers earned for chores to “purchase” baskets of food.

Cans of food and gift cards are worth much more than the metal or plastic they’re made of when donated to ForKids this week.

ForKids, a Norfolk-based organization that runs a homeless shelter in Suffolk, is collecting non-perishable food items and grocery store gift cards through Nov. 19 to help bring Thanksgiving to families in need.

“The holidays are another step for our families to achieve self-sufficiency and provide for their families,” said Thaler McCormick, ForKids chief executive officer. “By donating to our Thanksgiving dinner drive, you help our families provide for their families. It gives them a lot of dignity and hope because they want to be able to provide for their families.”

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Families receiving ForKids assistance receive vouchers from the organization for meeting goals, doing chores and other activities. They’re able to use their vouchers to “purchase” baskets with non-perishable food items and gift cards.

“We want to equip families with self-sufficiency,” McCormick said. “It’s a way for them to use what they can and learn valuable skills to provide for their family.”

The voucher program is set up to help families meet and be rewarded for meeting short-term goals that eventually help them achieve longer-term goals such as employment and stable housing.

The goal this year is to provide Thanksgiving dinners for 400-plus families in the ForKids network.

“We have more families this year that need help this holiday season than ever before,” McCormick said. “We’ve tripled the number of families we serve in the last few years and families that have been able to move on from our services are coming back now for help.”

Suggested items to donate include gift cards for families to purchase perishable items, instant mashed potatoes, packaged stuffing mix, dry gravy mix or canned gravy, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, collard or mustard greens, canned fruit, sweet potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, fried onions, boxed desserts, marshmallows, brown sugar, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, aluminum roaster pans, dishwashing liquids and paper towels.

In addition to the Thanksgiving dinner drive, ForKids is also collecting toys through Dec. 10 for its annual holiday toy drive.

It is seeking new, unwrapped toys suitable for infants through 11-year-olds and $10-$15 gift cards from Target or Walmart for teenagers 12-18 years old.

“I can’t imagine anything harder than not being able to have gifts for your children at Christmas,” McCormick said. “This will help make that happen for kids, and in the same way parents use vouchers to purchase Thanksgiving dinners, they use them to purchase gifts for their children. It allows them to continue to provide for their families during a very difficult time.”

Donations for either collection can be dropped off at ForKids headquarters at 4200 Colley Ave., Norfolk, or at its Suffolk House at 400 Finney Ave., Suffolk.

Donations past the cut-off date can always be used for ongoing needs, McCormick added.