Help spread some cheer

Published 9:18 pm Monday, December 7, 2009

Many wonderful individuals, organizations and commercial enterprises have given freely to the Cheer Fund this year.

So far, the Cheer Fund has a grand total of about $6,000. That amount will buy a lot of toys, but it is still far short of its goal for the year.

The Suffolk News-Herald collects money each year to help the Salvation Army and Marine Corps buy toys for Toys for Tots, which aims to help every underprivileged child have a gift to open on Christmas Day. The Cheer Fund has been in existence since early last century, when the fund initially collected money for food. The focus later turned to toys.

“Giving to the Cheer Fund helps buy the toys, and it’s very important,” Maj. Cal Clatterbuck, with the Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army, told me last week. “The toys are very important.”

The money helps supplement monetary and toy donations made throughout the Christmas season at area retailers.

I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty in the past of thinking that toys are not important for certain children in my life. My cousin Cole, in particular, has so many toys that some of them are in a storage unit, and he never even gets to play with them. For this reason, I haven’t purchased a toy for Cole in years. This year, for example, he told me he wanted a robot for Christmas. I bought him math and reading workbooks.

However, the thousands of children who receive toys from the Cheer Fund and Toys for Tots’ efforts in this area are not as lucky as Cole. Many parents and grandparents have been put out of work this year through no fault of their own, and their children may have suffered as a result.

It’s possible these children have already given up other niceties this year, such as birthday presents, new clothes and new shoes. Some families even may have been forced to forgo necessities such as medication or food at some point. This has been a hard year for everyone, but the children, in particular, shouldn’t have to suffer because of adult problems.

Every parent out there knows what it’s like to see that sparkle in his or her child’s eye on Christmas morning. Please help the less fortunate parents out there be able to see that sparkle this Christmas. Almost everyone can afford to give something, even if it’s only a dollar or two. Toys for Tots can likely stretch the money further than you might think.

To make a donation to the Cheer Fund, mail your check made out to “Cheer Fund” to the Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439, or hand-deliver it to the office at 130 S. Saratoga St. Donations from organizations and in honor or in memory of someone are welcome.