Cheer Fund begins annual campaign

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund has set a lofty goal this year.

The Cheer Fund, operated by the newspaper to provide money for Toys for Tots in Suffolk, hopes to collect $40,000 this year. That’s an increase of more than $3,000 from the amount collected last year.

But the need continues to increase, so the resources must increase as well, said Frank Rawls, a local attorney who sits on the board of the Cheer Fund.

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“The need is as great or greater than ever,” he said. “Please give generously.”

In 2010, the Cheer Fund collected $36,735 and served 5,260 children — a 10-percent increase from 2009.

“We anticipate we will serve at least that many and probably more, because Suffolk’s population has grown, and the economy remains in the doldrums,” Rawls said.

The Cheer Fund was started by the Suffolk News-Herald sometime last century — during the Great Depression, it is believed — and initially provided money for clothing and food for needy Suffolk residents.

Over time, its mission changed to provide money to purchase toys for children who might otherwise find nothing under the tree on Christmas morning.

Money raised through the effort goes directly to the Toys for Tots organization, which purchases and distributes toys to families of boys and girls in Suffolk.

The Cheer Fund is an all-volunteer organization. Necessary professional services are provided pro bono, and the newspaper staff does the publicity, bookkeeping and other functions. The only expense the Cheer Fund has is about $50 in fees to the State Corporation Commission each year, Rawls said.

“Essentially 100 percent of every dollar given is available for the purchase of toys,” he said. “In terms of bang for your buck, it’s fully there.”

Donations may be given by check made out to the Cheer Fund and mailed to the Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439.

Checks may also be hand-delivered at 130 S. Saratoga St. People who would like to be photographed making a donation may do so by bringing a check to the newspaper’s office between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Donation photos will run in the News-Herald throughout the holiday season, and anybody who does not request to be anonymous will have their name run in the newspaper as well.

Business donors can also make arrangements to have their donations picked up and a photo taken by calling 934-9616.