Many years supporting Toys for Tots

Published 11:18 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Students at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy donated lots of toys for last year’s Toys for Tots drive. The Cheer Fund provides funds for most of the Toys for Tots in Suffolk.

Most everybody remembers the joy of seeing gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, tearing the bows and paper off of them, ripping open boxes and playing with their new toys.

But thousands of children in Suffolk are at risk of not knowing that thrill this Christmas.

“The need is as great or greater than ever,” said Frank Rawls, a local attorney who sits on the board of the Cheer Fund.


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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.

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 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. Please give generously.”

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 to 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.

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