Help make dreams come true

Published 8:08 pm Thursday, November 3, 2011

It’s a pretty good bet that what a lot of young people in Suffolk want for Christmas this year is something electronic — an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad or some other kind of device their parents could hardly have dreamed of when they were children. For that matter, many of their parents would love to see the same things under the tree when they awake on Christmas morning.

But for a distressing number of adults, what they’d really like for Christmas this year is something less tangible but far more important — a job or maybe just a break from having to choose between making the rent payment on time or buying the medicine that Grandma needs. Despite recent stock market rallies and the pronouncements of economists, the effects of the Great Recession continue unabated for many Suffolk families, and Christmas this year will be a time of austerity and hard choices. Children in those families face the possibility of Christmas without new toys.

That’s where the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund comes into the picture. Established, it is believed, during the Great Depression, the Cheer Fund’s original purpose was to provide money for clothing and food for needy Suffolk residents. In the years to come, its mission would change to providing money to purchase toys for children who might otherwise find nothing under the tree on Christmas morning.

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Last year, businesses and residents of Suffolk generously contributed $36,735 to the Cheer Fund, which used that money to buy toys for 5,260 children, a 10-percent increase from the previous year. Members of the Fund’s volunteer Board of Directors expect the number of children served to rise again this year, but they are committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure those children awake with smiles on their faces on Christmas morning. There may be no iPads under the trees in those homes this year, but with the help of the good people of Suffolk, there will be toys.

If you would like to donate to the Cheer Fund and help make Christmas dreams come true for needy Suffolk families, please write a check to the Cheer Fund at the Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439. Your donations are tax-deductible, and nearly all the money collected (all but about $50 in fees to the State Corporation Commission) goes to buy toys for Suffolk children.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. The Cheer Fund — and your support of it — is one of the things that make us proud to call Suffolk home.