• 63°

Cheer Fund memories

As it has done for the past couple of years, the Suffolk News-Herald is once again featuring stories about the favorite Christmas memories of prominent people from throughout the community as part of its effort to spur donations to the Cheer Fund, which raises money to pay for the toys distributed by Suffolk’s Toys for Tots program.

Sunday’s kickoff story was about attorney Frank Rawls, who serves as president of the Cheer Fund’s board of directors. Rawls grew up during a time when westerns were all the rage, and he recalled the year that he received a full cowboy outfit, including a cap gun, for Christmas. “I wore it until it wore out,” he said.

Rawls was blessed to grow up in a household in which he didn’t have to wonder whether there would be anything for him under the tree on Christmas morning. But not all children in Suffolk have that confidence on Christmas Eve.

That’s why the Cheer Fund is so important. It was started by the Suffolk News-Herald during the Great Depression to gather clothes and food for needy families, but the Cheer Fund eventually turned its focus to providing toys for children, finally teaming up with the Toys for Tots program.

Toys purchased with Cheer Fund donations are distributed by the Salvation Army at its annual toy store in December. Families that receive toys are pre-approved based on financial need. Every penny raised through the program goes toward the purchase of toys, and this year’s goal has been set at $40,000, which will help provide toys for more than 2,000 children on Christmas morning.

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. Visit Suffolk Cheer Fund on Facebook to find a PayPal link.

And be sure to visit the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page. This year, we’re collecting memories, as well as money. Visit and share your favorite Christmas memory. We’re betting Frank Rawls wasn’t the only young cowboy in Suffolk. We’d love to see your photos, too.