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A mission to give back: Coastal Virginia Magazine’s top nonprofits in the area

Every year Coastal Virginia Magazine names the top five charities here in Hampton Roads and News 3 This Morning is counting down the top five and giving you a closer look at how they are helping others in the area.

We are highlighting the charities every morning December 3 – 7 starting at 4:30 a.m. on News 3.

5. Tidewater Search and Rescue

Tidewater Search and Rescue is an all-volunteer search, rescue and recovery organization. Volunteers are specially trained and certified to find lost or missing people in wilderness, rural, urban or disaster areas, all without any compensation. They go wherever requested through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The organization got their start back in 1985 when a boy went missing in York County. Since then they have been on missions to find the missing after natural disasters and victims of violent crimes. The group’s commander Kevin Brewer said you have to have a big heart and tough skin to do this work.

4. Hearts for Hounds

Kindra Powell created the nonprofit Hearts for Hounds when she saw the high number of ex-hunting dogs thrown away when their job was done, leaving them to die alone on the side of the road. Her organization focuses its attention on rural, southern shelters that are considered "high kill." They are a foster-based program, meaning each dog is placed in a temporary home until a forever home comes along. Powell said she started rescuing dogs on her own ten years ago, but she created her nonprofit to help even more dogs.

3. Fear to Freedom

Part of Fear to Freedom's mission is making care packages for rape and sexual assault survivors enduring exams to recover evidence. Tricia Russell said some people have to leave the hospital in a paper scrub or hospital gown so they pack thousands of unmarked bags with underwear, shirts, brushes, bears and more.

2. Kennedy's Angel Gowns

The nonprofit Kennedy's Angel Gowns uses fabric from donated wedding dresses to create handsome vests and gorgeous gowns. These items are used to give babies gone too soon a proper goodbye during a tragic time.

1. Toby's Dream Foundation

The nonprofit Toby's Dream Foundation has helped children that are referred to them by CHKD and the Naval Medical Center. Since they started in 2009 -- they have made more than 400 dreams come true.

Stay tuned all week to learn about each of the charities that won recognition from Coastal Virginia Magazine.