Christmas cheer, thanks to you

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For more than a month, we have used this space, portions of our front page and various other parts of this newspaper to solicit donations to the Cheer Fund, and you have been both patient and generous regarding our solicitations.

The Cheer Fund was started in the 1940s to help get toys into the hands of underprivileged Suffolk children at Christmas. 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 as 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, 4,655 Suffolk-area children received toys through the efforts of the Cheer Fund and Toys for Tots. That number continues to rise every year, as harsh economic conditions leave more and more families unable to provide Christmas cheer on their own.

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The economy has recently shown statistical signs of improvement after more than three years of recessionary performance. But anecdotal evidence that things are improving has been harder to find. In fact, one bit of anecdotal evidence against an improving economy is the fact that Cheer Fund donations are down this year.

But we have faith in the people of Suffolk and their incredible generosity. Last year, things looked bleak at one point, too. But our 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, as we celebrate Christmas, we wish to thank all of those who have taken their own steps of faith, donating to this worthy cause in spite of their own financial uncertainties. You have made a difference in the lives of children all around Suffolk.

There’s still time to help the Cheer Fund, too. Donations received through the end of January go toward meeting this year’s goal, which funds the purchase of toys for next year’s distribution. If you’d like to help, 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.

Thank you, Suffolk, for your kindness and your generosity.