Togetherness makes Christmas special for schools chief

Published 6:34 pm Saturday, December 10, 2016

Togetherness is the hallmark of the holidays for Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney.

His birthday is on Christmas Eve, so he has many memories of the day before Christmas as well as Christmas itself.

“On Christmas Eve, I recall the family sitting around and either preparing (for the next day) or looking at holiday specials that were on TV,” he said. “I have a lot of fond memories of family togetherness. We had a close-knit family, my parents and my three siblings.”

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Whitney recalled the family participating in card games and board games on Christmas.

“You really cherish the family time,” he said.

Whitney recalled he and his brother making a long list of things they wanted out of a catalog and not receiving even a third of it. But they didn’t care, he said.

“I can’t recall a Christmas that I was disappointed and not overjoyed,” he said. “We were not financially struggling. We were not financially wealthy either, but they provided for us in a way that was memorable.”

With his own daughter, who is in college now, Whitney and his wife have aimed for the same goal.

“It’s hard sometimes as a parent to not overindulge your child,” he said. “You set those limitations, as we did with our daughter, but on the same note making sure it’s memorable for her.”

One of the ways the Whitneys have made Christmas memorable is always finding time to give back, while taking their daughter along.

“I think it’s important to provide for those who may not have,” he said. “I can’t imagine a Christmas not receiving something.”

Whitney said it is rewarding for him and his family to give back.

“I believe the blessings we receive are based on the blessings we give,” he said. “It’s a very special feeling when you’re able to provide for someone who may not have or may be doing without. We owe it to ourselves to help those in need of help.”

Whitney said he and his family support the mission of the Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund, which raises money to provide toys for local families in need of help at Christmas time.

Cheer Fund donations are printed in the Suffolk News-Herald and can be made in honor of or in memory of a loved one. The donor can be listed anonymously if he chooses. The donor can also have his photograph taken giving the check to be published in the newspaper.

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.

Online giving is also available. To give using a credit or debit card or your PayPal account, click “Donate Here” at the top of our home page,