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Virginia Beach nonprofit needs donations to help foster children ahead of the holidays

Connect With a Wish said it's been struggling financially throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on some nonprofits.

In Virginia Beach, the nonprofit Connect With a Wish has struggled to raise money since the pandemic began. The organization helps children in foster care with donations, fulfilling their needs as they transition between homes and their journey beyond.

Colleen Luksik, the Vice President of Connect With a Wish said raising money has been challenging for them. Earlier this year, the pandemic forced the Pungo Wine Festival to cancel. Luksik said it’s the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser.

“We lost about $70,000, that’s what we expected to make at the wine festival,” said Luksik.

“We do have other donations and small fundraising events, but that’s pretty much the meat of where all of our funding comes from.”

Luksik and her team have applied for several grants to get through the financial hurdles. With several nonprofits in need of help, Luksik said applying for grants is a competitive process. So far, Connect With a Wish hasn’t had any luck.

Luksik hopes people in the community will help with donations just in time for the holidays.

“We’re trying to get people to host toy drives or sponsor a child so we can still give them a really good Christmas despite all of this stuff going on,” said Luksik.

“To be honest, we’re kind of taking it day-by-day like the rest of the world, seeing how this whole pandemic pans out.”

Beyond the financial struggles, there’s an even bigger challenge this nonprofit is facing during the pandemic:

Its ability to connect with the foster children they serve to figure out what their needs are.

“I think the hardest part is that we haven't really been able to see the kids. Sometimes we find out what their needs are when we see them at youth group. That’s the biggest challenge is not being together with the kids and figuring out what their needs are that way.”

Luksik said they’re in constant communication with the children’s caseworkers to figure out what their needs are.

Despite the hurdles, the nonprofit is focused on making Christmas special for the kids during the group’s annual Santapalooza event.

The annual event typically brings more than 250 people together. It’s a large Christmas party children in foster care look forward to, but it’ll look a lot different this year. Luksik said the plan is to bring children to the event in smaller groups and have a grab-and-go style setup.

Ultimately, the goal is to bring children joy and a helping hand, now more than ever.

If you want to help, you can donate directly to Connect With a Wish or drop off donations at its location in Virginia Beach.

More information about specific donations the nonprofit needs is available on their Facebook page.