Cheer Fund buys toys for Suffolk children

Published 8:32 pm Friday, November 29, 2019

The Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund is a community effort to provide toys for children in Suffolk who otherwise might not find any gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.

Each year, thousands of children in Suffolk are helped through the Cheer Fund thanks to many donors who give to this community effort. The Cheer Fund provides money for the Salvation Army to purchase toys to give to Suffolk families in need at Christmastime.

Families sign up and are vetted ahead of time, and parents and guardians are able to visit the “toy store” the week before Christmas and choose the best gifts for their children.

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The toys in that toy store that are purchased with Cheer Fund money come from two main places. The first is Global USA, a toy seller that works with many charities.

Salvation Army Suffolk Corps Capt. Shauntrice Anthony visits the toy seller’s warehouse in Lexington, N.C., each summer to see the selection of toys and choose which ones she will order.

Before she goes, she prepares by looking up the most popular toys for that year in each age group.

“I look for stuff that I would want to play with or something my nieces and nephews would want to play with,” she said. “I look for things that are age-appropriate and something they would actually want to play with that’s not just going to sit in the house.”

Because Global USA works with multiple charities, they are accustomed to tight budgets.

“When I go, I tell them what my budget is, and I choose the toys that I want,” Anthony said. “They basically adjust their price to accommodate my budget. They discount the toys for us, so a toy might retail for $8, and they give it to me for $7 or $6.50.”

By ordering in the summer, Anthony gets the best selection and ensures delivery at the beginning of November, giving volunteers plenty of time to set up the toy store.

“They have been very accommodating, and they make sure the toys are delivered timely,” she said.

The second source of the toys is the local Walmart store. Volunteers shopped there for the first time last year and intend to do so again this year.

“I thought it would be really good to spend money here,” Anthony said. “Last year, we spent $10,000 at the Walmart to purchase a lot of the items, age group and genders we knew we needed extra items for.”

Anthony said it is nice for people in the community to see volunteers shopping, and it gives another way to spread the word about the Cheer Fund and the Salvation Army.

“It was a good advertisement and a chance to share with people just in shopping,” she said. “It’s not every day you see 10 people shopping and filling up carts in Walmart.”

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper’s office, 130 S. Saratoga St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like. Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your picture as you hand it to one of our staff.

For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 934-9609.