Final push for Cheer Fund

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, December 18, 2010

With Christmas less than a week away, Cheer Fund donations are in full swing, and organizers of the charitable effort that supports Suffolk’s Toys for Tots program are hoping for a late-season burst of giving to help them reach their goals.

“We are very grateful for the response we have gotten, but we have quite a way to go to reach our goal,” said Frank Rawls, chairman of the Cheer Fund board of directors.

“My hope is that those who have thought about giving will please give. And if they haven’t thought about giving, we hope they will.”


Email newsletter signup

The Cheer Fund was launched by the Suffolk News-Herald in the 1930s to give people in the community a way to help needy neighbors by providing toys for their children during the Christmas season.

The newspaper publicizes the fund drive, collects donations and contributes accounting services. A volunteer board of directors, comprising one Suffolk News-Herald representative and a group of community leaders, decides how the money will be spent and invested each year. That group also sets fundraising goals each year.

This year’s goal is $45,000, the same as it has been for at least two years, Rawls said. Unfortunately, largely because of economic pressures during the past several years, that goal has remained unmet for some time.

During that time, however, the need for donations has only grown.

Even with the help of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, Cheer Fund donations are still a vital part of the effort to get toys into the hands of underprivileged Suffolk children.

Last year, nearly 5,000 children in Suffolk received toys through the program. Individuals, businesses, churches and community organizations helped raise more than $35,000 to help buy those toys.

But raising the money has been a struggle in the midst of the long recession and slow recovery, Rawls said.

“The job of serving almost 5,000 needy children has been a hard one in this economic climate,” he said.

But it’s a job that Rawls loves and has taken seriously since he was first asked to provide free legal services for the Cheer Fund in the 1970s.

Today, he continues to be proud of the charitable impact the Cheer Fund has made on his community.

“One hundred percent of the donations go to help make a better Christmas for needy kids in Suffolk,” he said Friday. “I’m not aware of any (other) charity that has no administrative cost.”

To contribute to the Cheer Fund, send a check to Cheer Fund, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439-1220, or stop by the Suffolk News-Herald’s offices at 130 S. Saratoga St.