Cheer Fund kicks off

Published 12:04 am Sunday, November 14, 2010

As you’re making your list and checking it twice this Christmas season, don’t forget to put the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer’s Fund at the top.

The Cheer Fund, begun by the paper approximately 80 years ago, collects monetary donations from the community during each holiday season and turns the money over to Toys for Tots to help them buy toys for local needy children.

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Frank Rawls, a local attorney who does pro bono work for the Cheer Fund, was first enlisted in the ‘70s to help with the fund’s incorporation.

“The Cheer Fund, I think, is an apt name,” Rawls said. “Its purpose is to help bring cheer to needy children at Christmas and help provide some nice toys that they wouldn’t receive otherwise.”

Money the Cheer Fund raises from individuals, clubs and businesses is turned over to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program in Suffolk. Toys are then distributed to families identified by Social Services and the Salvation Army.

“You have folks who can least afford to provide anything beyond the basics, and often they can’t even afford to provide the basics for themselves and their children,” Rawls said. “Jesus talked about helping the least of these. That philosophy goes to our compassionate response.”

Last year, donations totaling about $35,500 helped buy gifts for nearly 5,000 children to open on Christmas morning. Despite it being the second consecutive year the Cheer Fund fell short of its $45,000 goal, the money helped buy toys for more children than the year before.

“A large percentage of what Toys for Tots for Suffolk is able to get comes from donations to the Cheer Fund,” Rawls said.

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. News-Herald staff will publish a photo of anyone bringing their donation to the office who wishes to be recognized in the newspaper.

For more information, call 539-3437.