Bringing the Christmas ‘Cheer’

Published 10:47 pm Monday, November 21, 2016

Every Christmas, thousands of children in Suffolk would not have toys under the tree if it weren’t for the Suffolk Cheer Fund.

The Cheer Fund collects money for the Toys for Tots program, which purchases and distributes thousands of toys to ensure the Christmas cheer spreads Suffolk-wide every Dec. 25.

The Cheer Fund started during the Great Depression to provide clothes and food for needy families. It eventually began providing toys for children and teamed up with the Toys for Tots program.

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There are many reasons to give to the Cheer Fund, and head elf Margie Wiley can list them all.

“Sometimes, it’s just easier than going out shopping,” Wiley said. “You can let somebody else do the shopping for you.”

While many people enjoy shopping for toys, money given to the Cheer Fund goes farther, because toys are purchased in bulk at a discount.

“It’s great that a community will donate a toy to Toys for Tots, but it’s even better when you donate directly to the Cheer Fund, because they’re able to get toys at a discount, so the dollar goes farther,” Wiley said.

The Toys for Tots experts keep up on the latest in toys, so they’re able to get toys that will be favored by the kids.

“You can have somebody really put a toy in someone’s hand that someone can use,” Wiley said. “We just want to make sure the money and toys are getting utilized the best way they can.”

Wiley said many people may not realize the level of need in the city.

“Your neighbor or the person you go to church with — you see them every day, but you don’t know what’s going on at home,” she said. “We see the expansion going on, which is wonderful, but you don’t realize the magnitude within the city of people that don’t have enough to buy toys for their children. Without the Toys for Tots, those kids would never get a toy like that.”

All money given to the Cheer Fund stays in Suffolk, unlike checks written directly to Toys for Tots.

“It’s even better when you send it to the local organization, because we can make sure it stays here,” Wiley said.

One hundred percent of the money given to the Cheer Fund goes toward purchasing toys.

Wiley said the ability for parents to come to the Salvation Army in early December and shop for the toys they will receive for their children gives them a sense of accomplishment.

“It’s a sense of pride,” she said.

For those who still need an incentive, a donation to the Cheer Fund is tax-deductible.

Donations for the Cheer Fund are accepted year-round. To give, write a check payable to the Cheer Fund and mail it to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439, or stop by our office at 130 S. Saratoga St. Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also find the Cheer Fund on Facebook. Just search for “Suffolk Cheer Fund.”