Toys bring joy to all involved

Published 10:40 pm Friday, December 6, 2019

Crystal Warren has experienced both sides of the joy of the toys the Cheer Fund helps purchase for children in Suffolk.

Warren has attended church at the Salvation Army on Bank Street since she was 9 years old, so she tries to volunteer for everything she can at the Salvation Army. In past years, she has helped set up the toy store where parents and guardians shop for toys, and she has also helped when they actually come in and shop.

But she has also been on the receiving end of toys for her son, currently 5 years old, through the program when her family fell on hard times.

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“It’s definitely been an honor to help out with the distribution of the toys — just to get everything ready and interacting with other volunteers that make time out of their busy day to come and make sure that every kid has something for Christmas,” she said.

“It’s also been an experience for myself, having my own son and knowing sometimes that his Christmas may not be here because of my financial situation, so just being able to get him something has really helped me out.”

One of her son’s favorite toys in past years was a ride-on truck that came with several smaller toys inside. Warren said her son’s bright eyes and joy on Christmas morning have made it all worth it — and she sees the same joy in the other parents when she volunteers for the toy distribution.

“It puts a smile on their face,” she said. “If they’re happy about it, you know their kids will be happy about it. It just warms your heart.”

Warren said the wide variety of toys available, as well as extras like dolls and stockings filled with small toys and treats, is a crowd-pleaser when parents come to shop.

“This program means a lot to me, because there’s a lot of kids in that situation that don’t have a lot,” she said. “That’s why I try to volunteer. I hope we can keep doing the program as long as we can.

“It’s all about just helping and being there when no one else can be.”

The Cheer Fund annually collects donations to be used by the Salvation Army to buy toys for Suffolk children. Thousands of children find toys under the tree each Christmas thanks to the generosity of many individuals, groups, organizations and businesses in Suffolk, and no donation is too big or too small.

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.