Childhood memories spur gift

Published 8:25 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

When Willie Boykin was a child, he knew what it was like not to have toys.

His mother died when he was only 4 years old. His father, although he did the best he could, couldn’t afford to give his son the things many other children had, Boykin recalled Friday.

“It was just one of those things,” he said. “I saw other kids that had some of the same toys, and he said ‘You don’t need nothing like that.’”

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The memory returns to Boykin every holiday season.

“That’s something I’ve never forgotten,” he said.

That memory is one reason he donates to the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund every year.

The News-Herald Cheer Fund solicits money from individuals, groups and businesses in Suffolk and turns the money over to the Toys for Tots program. Toys for Tots then uses it to purchase new toys for children in needy families to ensure that all children in Suffolk can get a toy on Christmas.

Giving to those who are less fortunate than he is has become an important focus for Boykin.

“Some people just think about theirself, they don’t think about anybody else,” he said. “That’s just the way some people are. I can’t be like that, I don’t feel right like that.”

The Cheer Fund is one charity that always makes Boykin’s giving list.

“The Cheer Fund was one of the first things I thought about.”

In addition to his upbringing, Boykin’s service in the military during World War II inspired him to give, he said.

“I’ve been helping the poor ever since I came out of the service,” he said. “Some of the people when I went overseas, in Okinawa, and when I came back to the States, I would always think about some of those people.

“I saw how they were suffering; I saw how they didn’t have any food.”

A third motivation for Boykin is his dear friend, Virginia Barnes, who died about four years ago, he said. He gave his donation this year in honor of Barnes.

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