Cheer Fund supports Toys-for-Tots

Published 9:21 pm Saturday, November 15, 2008

The drive to collect money and toys for the annual Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund continues.

The Cheer Fund collects money and toys from generous Suffolk donors and hands them over to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Toys for Tots then distributes toys in the Suffolk area to needy children who otherwise would not get a toy this Christmas.

Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The program was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it nationwide. Now, 61 years later, Marines have distributed more than 370 million toys to more than 173 million needy children.

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Locally, the Cheer Fund raised more than $36,000 last year to support Suffolk’s Toys for Tots campaign. With this money, the organization was able to purchase toys for more than 3,300 children last year. This year, the News-Herald has set a goal of $45,000 for the Cheer Fund.

Toys for Tots locally is administered by the South Hampton Roads National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, said John Woleben, the coordinator of Suffolk Toys for Tots.

Although Christmas 2006 had the highest demand ever for help from Toys for Tots in Hampton Roads, Woleben expects this year to come close, if not top it.

“We expect to have a tremendous demand for toys for kids,” Woleben said. The Salvation Army has collected double the applications for toys than at this time last year, he added.

Cheer Fund 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.