Suffolk cheer keeps spreading

Published 9:25 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2018

It’s been another busy December covering all of the Christmas cheer that’s been spreading around Suffolk. The past two weeks have had plenty of donations collected and gifts given, and it’s nice to see the spirit of the season on full display.

Just this past week has seen a turnout of Christmas fervor downtown. I was at Autumn Care nursing home on Pruden Boulevard on Friday morning, starting my day by interviewing Santa on his Harley-Davidson.

Robert Johnson comes to the nursing home every December on his festive, red motorcycle while wearing a full costume. He comes to give out teddy bears and candy to staff and residents alike.


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I watched him greet everybody like old friends as he laughed, hugged and gave out tons of Hershey’s Kisses.

“That’s what Santa is (about). It’s doing something for somebody else and giving someone that excitement,” he said as he carried his big red sack of goodies.

Later that Friday, carts were being filled up with toys at the Walmart on North Main Street. Volunteers from the Salvation Army, Suffolk’s Department of Social Services and the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund board grabbed Nerf guns, video games, art supplies, action figures and other gifts fit for children ages 9 to 12.

Every year the Cheer Fund spends tens of thousands of dollars for thousands of Suffolk children to have gifts for Christmas morning, which are distributed to needy families by the Salvation Army. Thanks to this year’s success — $29,703 raised as of Friday — the fund was able to appropriate an additional $10,000 specifically for the most underserved age bracket, according to Salvation Army Corps Capt. Shauntrice Anthony.

“We’re spending $10,000 just on that group to make sure they get good, quality toys this year,” Anthony said.

It seemed like there were people — some in costume, others just wearing red or green — working across the city this past weekend to brighten these cold days for the young and old. The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office carried that enthusiasm into Saturday with “Operation Helping Hands.”

Deputies were at both Suffolk Walmart stores on Saturday collecting new, unwrapped toys for their fifth annual toy drive, then traveled to three elementary schools on Monday with a trailer’s worth of toys and a dozen child-sized bicycles.

I witnessed this haul first hand on Monday morning at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, and it was impressive to say the least. Those donations were gifted to students at Oakland, Pioneer and Elephant’s Fork elementary schools. Many of these students have families that are struggling to afford Christmas presents this year.

“It’s very important to me for these children to enjoy their holidays,” Sheriff E.C. Harris said.

I applaud all of the generosity that I got to witness recently. I know it’s just a few of the many good deeds happening around the holidays this month.