Cheer Fund donations show Christmas spirit is alive in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 20, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The 2003 Toys for Tots campaign is nearly over, with 1,600 underprivileged children in Suffolk the beneficiaries of the generosity of people, industry, small businesses and organizations.

On Friday, John C. Holland Jr. and sister, JoAnn Nesson, president and treasurer respectively of John C. Holland Enterprises Inc., presented a $5,000 check to Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund. To date, their contribution is the single largest donation made to the fund that pays for toys distributed through the campaign.


Email newsletter signup

The pair gave the huge sum in honor of their parents, John C. Holland Sr. and Marie S. Holland.

&uot;My father always supported the Cheer Fund, and I’d like to continue that tradition of giving,&uot; said John C. Holland Jr. &uot;I also support the Driver Fire Department and the Bennett’s Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad.&uot;

Holland, owner and operator of a Nansemond Parkway landfill, was so impressed with the two volunteer services that he also gave each agency checks for $2,500.

&uot;The day after the hurricane, I went to the fire department and I saw firefighters cutting trees off the road so at least you could get by,&uot; Holland said. &uot;They were also checking the power lines.

&uot;I sat in the front window of my home and watched them. The next morning, I went to the Driver Volunteer Fire Department.

&uot;All fire department volunteers – men and women and even a 14-year-old girl who learned how to run a chain saw that day – were so exhausted,… they were laid out everywhere,&uot; he continued. &uot;I talked with a chief out there and I told him that I was open if they needed me to help get anything out of the streets.

&uot;People don’t realize the volunteerism out here in the community. I was very proud of them,…and their work during Hurricane Isabel.

&uot;So many people are moving into the city and I don’t think they realize that it’s not the city that provides all these services, but the dedicated volunteers who devote their personal time. They deserve a ‘thank you’.

&uot;Yes, Virginia, there are still some good people in this world.&uot;

The Suffolk News-Herald is equally appreciative of the recent $2,500 gift the Pruden Foundation recently gave to the Cheer Fund. The philanthropic organization was established in 1972 by the late Peter D. Pruden, a Suffolk industrialist.

Giving to the Cheer Fund was his father’s way to thank local citizens who contributed to the success of his business, Pruden Packing Co., said Peter &uot;Pete&uot; Pruden III, the organization’s treasurer, said Friday. Today, Pruden’s company is part of Smithfield Foods Inc.

&uot;The Pruden Foundation, especially at this time of year, certainly enjoys helping the needy as we do year ’round,&uot; said Pruden. &uot;But, it takes on a special meaning at Christmas time. This is just a token of our desire to help the needy in our community.&uot;

Smaller businesses in Suffolk have also contributed to the Cheer Fund. Chubbie’s Cheesesteaks, located for the past four years at 1208 North Main St., raffled off two Christmas baskets. The Peanut Gallery’s Elaine Butler created the wonderful baskets, filling them with chocolate-covered peanuts and other kinds of &uot;goober&uot; confections.

&uot;We are giving $233 to the Cheer Fund and also, each dollar from that raffle will go to the Cheer Fund,&uot; said George Eure, owner of Chubbie’s. &uot;We’d like to thank all of our customers for their purchase of the tickets to support the Cheer Fund.&uot;

While there are many large contributions to the Cheer Fund, every dollar that comes in for the children is deeply appreciated. You, our readers, cannot know the joy that will shine forth from the faces of the children receiving gifts from &uot;Santa&uot; through the Toys for Tots campaign.

&uot;Little Miss Las Amigas&uot; serves as a shining example of the youth in our city that are fortunate enough to be able to share Santa with the underprivileged children. When the Little Miss, 8-year-old Chyrell McAllister, came to the newsroom at the News-Herald, all work ceased. Everyone in our offices wanted to see the beautiful little girl who proudly stood before us with a $100 check for the Cheer Fund.

Chyrell, the daughter of Venus and Alige McAllister, is an honor student at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.

Ethel Hart, the national president of Las Amigas and a Suffolk resident, said the money was raised through the organization’s bi-annual Little Miss Las Amigas pageant, which supports 16 charities. The membership also fills Christmas stockings for underprivileged

children and has adopted two families for Christmas.

This year’s Cheer Fund goal is $40,000. As the fundraising campaign continues through the holidays, any contribution would greatly be appreciated. Large or small, from a national bank or a piggy bank, every dime is important to the Toys for Tots campaign.

Consider Christmas morning and children without toys. Then, if you are so moved, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, 23437, or stop by the News-Herald office, 130 S. Saratoga St.

Anyone making a contribution of $100 or more will be photographed for publication in the paper.