Lots of changes to give in Suffolk

Published 6:24 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An unthinkable thing has happened to me this year. Despite all my carefully laid plans, I’ve somehow managed to break my only gift-buying rule: Don’t shop after Dec. 20.

As of today, I am only halfway through my list. And while I’m dreading the packed stores I face when I finally find the time to grab those last gifts, I still love buying presents for others. In fact, I love buying presents so much that I even buy them for strangers through charitable programs like Operation Christmas Child.

I began filling shoeboxes for the program when I was a child. My mother always let my sister and me have our own shoeboxes to pack with goodies for less fortunate children. It taught us early on the magic of giving gifts, instead of just receiving them. It was a lesson that has stayed with me my whole life.

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That’s why I find the Cops & Kids program in Suffolk so important. The program, run by the members of Lodge No. 41 of the Fraternal Order of Police, gives children $100 to shop for gifts for themselves and — more importantly — for family members. Each of the 23 lucky youngsters is paired with an officer who travels with them to Walmart for their gift-hunting adventure. The program not only gives the children the opportunity to understand the power of giving, but the chaperones also help participants make wise spending choices. It’s a wonderful program that is an example of what makes Suffolk great.

One of the many things I love about Suffolk is the giving spirit of its community members.

December is a charitable time in Suffolk. The Cops & Kids program is just one example. Suffolk News-Herald reporters have also covered food drives, pet supply drives and the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program this year. And we also try to do more than just report on these stories of Christmas cheer by creating a little cheer ourselves.

It’s not too late to give to the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund, which supports Toys for Tots by helping purchase toys for underprivileged Suffolk children. To donate, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to our office at 130 S. Saratoga St. between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

You can make your donation in someone’s memory or honor, and we’d love to take your photo making the donation — or you can do it anonymously.

Suffolk offers many opportunities for children and adults alike to give back. Now is the perfect time to make sure everyone can have a merry Christmas.