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Cheer Fund helps 4,982

Though the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund fell short of its goal this year, the fund helped 25 percent more children than in 2008.

“I was pleased with the support that the Cheer Fund received in a very difficult economy,” said Frank Rawls, who is on the Cheer Fund board. “Toys for Tots was able to give more and better toys this year than any time in the past.”

The Cheer Fund’s grand total for 2009 was $35,497.84, which helped buy gifts for 4,982 Suffolk children to open on Christmas morning, according to John Woleben.

This is the second consecutive year the Cheer Fund has fallen short of its $45,000 goal, Rawls said. In 2008, the fund raised $43,000, but only after national media coverage followed a break-in at the Toys for Tots warehouse in Suffolk. If the slowing trend continues, children’s holidays could suffer in future years.

“We’re going to have a difficult time maintaining the quality and quantity of toys without meeting our goal in the future,” Rawls said. “If that continues, then our ability to help Toys for Tots purchase quality toys will be diminished.”

The Cheer Fund, begun sometime in the 1930s by the Suffolk News-Herald, solicits cash donations from individuals, clubs and businesses in Suffolk and then turns the money over to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.

Donations to the Cheer Fund may be made year-round by mailing a check, payable to Cheer Fund, to the Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23434 or dropping one off at the office, 130 S. Saratoga St.

Donations made after Jan. 31 will count toward next year’s drive.