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Harris recalls visiting on Christmas

Christmas on the Eastern Shore was the foundation of Suffolk Sheriff E.C. Harris’ childhood.

The holiday, for folks who live there, was filled with visiting family and friends and meals that heavily featured seafood and wild game.

“Over on the Eastern Shore, you did a lot of visiting,” Harris said. “From Christmas Eve until the day after Christmas, it was a breakfast, lunch and dinner somewhere every day for three days.”

The food was what was available: wild game — mostly duck, goose and quail — as well as seafood.

“Most of my people were watermen,” Harris said. “They would salt fish or catch peeler crabs and freeze piles of them.”

There was a lot of volunteering, too. Harris remembers singing Christmas carols at the nursing home where his mother volunteered.

That was not his only musical Christmas venture, though. Harris’ request to Santa Claus every year featured a new drum set, and he received several throughout his childhood. The older he got, the bigger the drums got.

“I’d do some banging on some drums,” he said.

Harris said he encourages folks to support the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund every year.

“There’s a tremendous need,” he said. “A lot of people are not as fortunate as we are.”

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.