Donations needed for annual prom benefiting local teen girls in foster care


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For many teens, going to prom is a rite of passage in high school.

However, for teens in foster care, the big night isn’t always guaranteed.

A Virginia Beach non-profit is looking to change that and they need your help to do it.

Connect With a Wish is getting ready to host a prom event on Feb. 16 for foster teens across Hampton Roads. 

The event provides girls with everything they need to go to prom at their school.

It’s less than a month away and they’re hoping the community can help make it a night these teens won’t forget.

“There’s a lot of tears that day. They truly have never had that kind of pampering done,” Joy Rios, founder of Connect With a Wish.

From the dress down to the shoes and all the details in between, it’s a real life Cinderella story, complete with several fairy godmothers.

“It’s the full Monty for the girls,” Rios said. “They get their hair done, they get their makeup done, they pick out their dress.”

“They just transform and they look so happy and so confident,” said Colleen Luksik.

Rios said prom is a memory many young girls in foster care don’t get to experience.

The non-profit decided to host a prom to help foster teens prepare for the big day. Five years later, the event has grown from just eight girls to more than 20.

“They leave here feeling much better about themselves; I mean we thought one girl actually slept in her dress that night! It was that big of a deal,” Rios said.

Now just weeks away from the annual event, the non-profit is still looking for key items to make the night a success.

“We’re still in need of plus size dresses,” Rios said. “In the plus sizes, it’s a little bit harder to get a selection and we want the girls to feel special regardless of size.”

Formal jewelry, handbags and women’s dress shoes in sizes, 6, 9 and 10 are still needed too. We’re told the girls get to take everything home with them to use at their school’s prom in the future. 

“For them to be able to go to the prom and feel comfortable going and have that memory just like everyone else and not be sitting at home that night while their peers are all there, I think that’s important,” Luksik said.

Connect With a Wish is also asking for gift cards to restaurants and gift cards for other items like undergarments.

If you’re interested in donating for the event, you can find contact information here.

App Users: Click here to hear more from founder Joy Rios, in her own words.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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