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Bennett: ‘Better to give’

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett’s favorite Christmas memories have to do with giving back.

“When I was a kid growing up, my parents were always out trying to help others that were less fortunate than we were,” Bennett said. “There might be some kids in the community whose parents were not able to get toys, and they would always try to make sure they would have something for Christmas. That’s something that has been passed on down through the family.”

These days, Bennett serves on the board of the Salvation Army, which is an important partner in the distribution of toys to those who need them. The Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund annually raises tens of thousands of dollars from foundations, groups, businesses and individuals in the community to fund the purchase of toys, which are distributed by the Salvation Army.

“That is a great tool for the community and for the businesses and churches to come together and actually fund the Salvation Army, because there are so many people that are not able to have food on the table or toys or things they can give to children,” Bennett said. “I think it’s great when the community comes together.”

Of course, Christmas can be a sad time for many people, as well. Bennett had a sister who died three years ago at the age of 75 on Dec. 22. Her birthday was Christmas Eve.

“It still brings back memories,” Bennett said. “But the thing I really cherish a lot of is trying to help people and being a part of organizations that believe in helping others. The old saying is, ‘It’s better to give than receive.’”

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.

Families that receive toys are pre-approved based on financial need. This year’s Cheer Fund goal is $40,000.

To help get folks into the Christmas spirit this year, folks are encouraged to post their Christmas memories on the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page.

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.