A tough year for charity

Published 9:05 pm Friday, December 25, 2009

It was clear early on — perhaps even as the goal was set — that it would be nearly impossible for the Cheer Fund to reach its goal of $45,000 this year. The recession has set its teeth into folks at all levels of society, and charitable organizations have taken a double hit this year. Not only are people donating less than they have in the past, but former donors also are becoming beneficiaries of those organizations as they find themselves in unexpected circumstances this year — they’ve lost their jobs, their homes are in foreclosure and their salaries have been cut.

Amidst the economic turmoil of the past year, the board of directors that administers the Cheer Fund — which was set up to provide the cash used by the Suffolk Toys for Tots Community Organization to buy toys for the annual distribution by the Salvation Army and the U.S. Marine — had to come up with a goal that would be worthy of this venerable annual fundraising effort and of the generous people of Suffolk who keep it going from year to year.

With the economy already slipping quickly into recession in the fall of 2008, last year’s contributions fell behind the $45,000 goal that had been set, reaching only $38,000 once all the receipts were in. Understanding the gravity of the economic situation, this year, the board of directors chose not to raise that goal, and members began making calls to encourage donations from around the community, even in the face of the recession.

With Christmas over now and the days running out on 2009, this year’s Cheer Fund also is drawing to a close. Donations have surpassed $34,000, still leaving them a few thousand dollars short of last year’s collections, not to mention this year’s goal. Rest assured, that we’re still accepting donations, and we encourage folks who have not done so to either mail a check, payable to Cheer Fund, to the Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23434 or drop one off at the office, 130 S. Saratoga St.

And finally, a word of thanks to all those who already have made contributions to the effort this year, and to those who plan to do so soon. If it’s true that giving when times are tight shows true love for one’s fellow man, then this year’s Cheer Fund total proves that the people of Suffolk are full of love. Our hearts are filled with pride to be a part of this fine city.