Rawls helps for children

Published 8:05 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

What keeps Frank Rawls going is his love of children.

“I believe that part of my calling in being a lawyer is to help churches and charitable organizations at little or no cost to accomplish their missions,” Rawls said.

Rawls does that for the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund, a program the newspaper runs during November and December every year to collect money for Toys for Tots. That organization then uses the money to purchase toys for needy children to have on Christmas.

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A native of Suffolk and an attorney with the firm of Ferguson, Rawls and Raines, Rawls was approached in 1977 by a woman who was then on the board of the Cheer Fund. She asked him to help do the legal work of incorporating the News-Herald’s charity fund. Rawls, fresh out of law school, quickly agreed.

“I knew about the Cheer Fund,” he said. “It’s just really a marvelous charity.”

The Cheer Fund, which solicits money from individuals and organizations to accomplish its mission, is a notable organization, because it uses all volunteer personnel and has virtually no overhead, Rawls said.

“It essentially gives 100 percent of every dollar that comes in back out for ‘the least of these,’” Rawls said, taking a phrase from Matthew 25:40 in the Bible.

Besides the initial task of incorporating the charity, Rawls has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years to help the Cheer Fund file reports, pay the required annual dues to the State Corporation Commission, solicit funds and other tasks. Considerable praise also goes to John R. Boyce, of Boyce, Spady and Moore PLC, a Suffolk accounting firm, for doing the accounting work of the charity, Rawls said.

“It’s a reflection of the kind of businesses we have in Suffolk” that so many businesspeople give their services for free for the Cheer Fund, he said.

The Cheer Fund isn’t the only organization benefiting from Rawls’ altruism. Several other nonprofits and churches can be found in his “pro bono” file, he said.

However, Rawls doesn’t seek to get recognition for the work.

“It’s not for publicity that any of us do this,” he said. “That’s probably the case with almost every charitable board.”

The Cheer Fund especially pulls Rawls’ heartstrings, because of the children and Christmas – two of his favorite things, he said.

“These children have no choice of the family they were born (into),” he said. “I want to help parents not as fortunate as I am give their children presents.”

Christmas is significant for Rawls because of his beliefs, he said.

“Christmas is so special (because) we have the ultimate example of a gift with God giving Christ to us.”

Donations are being accepted for the Cheer Fund 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.