Cheer Fund grows, thanks to you

Published 1:15 pm Friday, December 24, 2010

For more than a month, we have used this space, portions of our front page and a couple of spots on the Almanac page to solicit donations to the Cheer Fund, and you have been both patient and generous regarding our solicitation.

The Cheer Fund was started in the 1940s to help get toys into the hands of underprivileged Suffolk children at Christmastime. After operating for many years on its own, the Cheer Fund organization joined forces with Toys for Tots several years ago. Today, a core group of dedicated volunteers serves the board of directors that administers the fund, invests the money and disperses it to Suffolk’s Toys for Tots program, which has its own volunteer helpers.

Last year, nearly 5,000 Suffolk children received toys through the efforts of the Cheer Fund and Toys for Tots. That number represented an increase of nearly 25 percent over the prior year, despite the fact that fundraising efforts missed their goal due to the recession. Through the generosity of Suffolkians from all over the nation, the Cheer Fund finally raised nearly $36,000, though it still fell short of its $45,000 goal.

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This year, with folks still reeling from the effects of an economy that has faltered for more than two years, the Cheer Fund got off to a slow start. There was a time when it looked as if the fund would fall far short not just of its goal, but also short of last year’s totals. Meanwhile, however, the number of children served by the charity has continued to rise. Things looked pretty bleak for a while.

But we had faith in the people of Suffolk and their incredible generosity. And that faith was rewarded when we saw businesses start collection drives for both Toys for Tots and the Cheer Fund, when we began to get checks from companies and civic organizations that wanted to match previous contributions despite facing their own economic crises, when the slow trickle of individuals and families stopping by our office to donate turned to a steady stream.

Today, we are very near the level we reached at this point in last year’s fund drive, and toy donations have done even better, officials say. There’s still a significant gap between the fund’s annual goal and our current fundraising level, and we encourage you to help the Cheer Fund reach that goal this year with a generous donation. Just send a check to Cheer Fund, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23434, or stop by the Suffolk News-Herald’s offices at 130 S. Saratoga St. to do so.

Thank you, Suffolk, for your kindness and your generosity. And have a Merry Christmas.