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Fundraiser to support homeless family services

ForKids Inc. is bringing its biggest annual fundraiser online this Saturday, in order to support its critical services for homeless families in Hampton Roads during the coronavirus pandemic.

ForKids has held a low-tech, traditional arts fundraiser annually for the past 18 years, with an average of more than 600 people in attendance each year, according to a Thursday press release. In response to the pandemic, the nonprofit has moved to a fully virtual event that will be held on Facebook Live this Saturday at 7 p.m.

ForKids is a non-profit founded 31 years ago with a mission of “breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty for families and children,” the press release states. The nonprofit is now one of the largest service providers to homeless families in Virginia.

The ForKids Children’s Art Auction is a $1.1 million-plus fundraiser that brings in one-third of ForKids’ annual contributions to support its critical services. The online bidding site for this year’s event can be found at www.forkids.org, where anyone can register for the auction.

“Homeless and low-income families and individuals will be the hardest hit by this crisis,” Thaler McCormick, chief executive officer of ForKids, states in the press release. “Our families need us now more than ever. With the move to virtual, we need more people to hit our goal, and hopefully grow it, to put services on the street.”

Bidding for feature packages opens Saturday at noon, but donations can be made now on the auction website. The auction finale will be live on the ForKids Facebook page Saturday at 7 p.m., until all packages are sold.

“ForKids invites everyone in the community to attend, bid and support their work at a time when families and children living in poverty need help the most,” the press release states.

ForKids sites are staying active and busy during this pandemic, according to McCormick, including the ForKids Suffolk Regional Services Center at 119 W. Constance Road. Staff are maintaining the necessary precautions while still assisting client families that are especially vulnerable at this time.

Two of the priorities for the Suffolk ForKids team so far have been making sure that these client family children get their work packets from their schools, and also that they still get fed. McCormick explained that these children lose a few meals per day, because those meals were provided by schools while they were still open.

Mercy Chefs, a faith-based, non-profit disaster relief organization, delivered 75 full meals on March 23 to ForKids families in Suffolk, and delivered an additional 190 meals this Monday, according to McCormick.

The ForKids staff is also working on creative ways to provide virtual tutoring services to children. The vast majority only have access to these services by phone, and staff members are making calls to tutor these young students, along with some teachers who have volunteered as well, McCormick said.

McCormick is encouraging any and all support for these families as things get more difficult in the months to come.

“It’s going to change in the coming months quite a bit,” McCormick wrote in an email Thursday. “We are very much hunkered down here for the long haul, because for low income families, this will have a big impact.”

ForKids operates the Regional Housing Crisis Hotline for 14 cities and counties across Hampton Roads, as well as resources757.org, a searchable database of community resources.

According to a March 20 ForKids press release, their Housing Crisis Hotline, or HCH757, is “the central point of contact” to hundreds of public and privately funded resources. All callers receive a personal assessment to determine the available community resources for which they are eligible.

The Housing Crisis Hotline maintains a database of housing-related resources in the community, working with community partners to track resource availability and government requirements. The hotline remains fully staffed with its team working remotely during the ongoing pandemic, the press release states.

Resources757 is a searchable database operated by the Housing Crisis Hotline. According to the press release, team members are keeping these online resources up to date, with “specific information regarding COVID-19 resources that are immediately available.”

Find out more about these resources online at resources757.org, and for those needing direct assistance with housing, homelessness or other support, call the ForKids Housing Crisis Hotline at 587-4202, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Visit forkids.org for more information, including how to make a donation, register for the auction, find information to organize a supply drive, or sign up to volunteer.