Cheer Fund sets $35,000 goal

Published 8:42 pm Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund has a lofty goal of $35,000 this year and hopes citizens in the community will step up and help local children.

Jim Shiels of the Salvation Army said the fund partners closely with Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.

“For years, the Cheer Fund has been supporting the Toys for Tots program as in turn they then supported the Salvation Army,” Shiels said.

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Last year, he said, about 5,000 toys were provided throughout Suffolk for more than 1,100 families.

“If we can provide something for their parents or their guardians to put just a simple toy or two or three under the tree, it gives a part of the whole community spirit,” Shiels said. “A lot of those parents, if they didn’t have this resource, either they wouldn’t be providing toys or gifts for their children, or they would be using their resources to do it at the cost of living resources.”

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 required fees to the State Corporation Commission each year.

Shiels said the impact of the Cheer Fund since its inception is “incalculable.”

“How do we know the real depth of the work that has been done?” Shiels said. “Not very often do I see a community give the way this community gives.”

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23434 or bring it to our office, 130 S. Saratoga St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like. Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your picture as you hand it to one of our staff.

For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 934-9616.