Cheer Fund begins

Published 11:02 pm Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Suffolk News-Herald is kicking off its largest fundraising project of the year this weekend with the launch of the 2008 Suffolk Cheer Fund.

“The Cheer Fund has been around for as long as anyone can remember,” Jesse Lindsey, publisher of the News-Herald said. “What started out decades ago as a way for the Suffolk News-Herald to help feed needy families has now transitioned into a program more directly aimed at helping our community’s children.”

The Cheer Fund is the largest monetary provider in the city for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. The Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys to give as Christmas gifts to needy children. While Toys for Tots is a national program, all monies and gifts donated from a community stay within that community.

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“Our goal is to make sure no child in Suffolk goes without a toy, and thus far we feel we have been accomplishing that goal because all the money in the Cheer Fund goes straight to families who need it,” Lindsey said.

Last year, the Cheer Fund raised more than $36,000 to support Suffolk Toys for Tots. With this money, officials were able to purchase toys for more than 3,300 children last holiday season (Nationally, more than 19 million toys were given approximately 7 million children, according to the Toys for Tots Web site).

While these numbers are impressive, there still are an estimated 13 million children annually living in poverty. This means efforts last year provided only a little more than half of the country’s needy children with Christmas toys. To help reach more children here in Suffolk, this year the News-Herald has set a goal of $45,000 for the Cheer Fund. “It’s easy to forget about people outside of your own family during the Christmas season,” Lindsey said, “but this is a chance to make a lasting impact in a person’s life.”

Lindsey also thanked the current Suffolk Cheer Fund Board for their hard work and dedication to the “worthwhile mission.”

“The Cheer Fund has been successful in large part because of the community support, but also because of people like Frank Rawls, John Woleben and Cal Clatterbuck, who have continued to make this a top priority during the holiday season.”

Donations currently are being accepted at the News-Herald office or can be mailed to Suffolk Cheer Fund, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, Va. 23434. Donors who would like to have their picture taken for publication in the News-Herald can come to the office directly or call 934-9616.