My shopping experience

Published 10:20 pm Friday, December 13, 2019

For the second year in a row, I was looking forward to helping do the toy shopping for the Cheer Fund.

I walked into Walmart on Thursday afternoon, got my assignment from the Salvation Army’s Capt. Shauntrice Anthony (shop for girls ages 9-10), grabbed a cart and headed toward the toy section. I was surrounded by about half a dozen other Salvation Army staff and volunteers all doing the same thing.

As the editor of the Suffolk News-Herald, I am blessed to be one of the primary people promoting the Cheer Fund each year. The Cheer Fund is a project of the newspaper to collect donations from the community to be used to help purchase toys for Suffolk children for Christmas.

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I’m also on the Suffolk advisory board for the Salvation Army, which is the Cheer Fund’s partner helping to distribute the toys.

For 13 years now, I’ve been on this end of the Cheer Fund, simply promoting and helping to collect donations. But it has been fun to get more involved these last couple of years as I’ve been editor.

Last year, in addition to buying toys through a toy distributor, the Cheer Fund board decided to spend about $10,000 locally, and I enjoyed helping do that shopping at Walmart. This year, I decided not only to help shop but also to volunteer as parents and guardians come to select toys for kids in need this coming week. (I can’t wait.)

With my cart, I perused the aisles and thought of what kinds of things I would have wanted to receive at that age. I grabbed art sets, gemstone mining kits, STEM toys like circuitry sets, LEGO Friends sets and more. Later, I was reassigned to get toys for 3- to 5-year-old boys and girls. That turned out to be even more fun. I got remote control cars and some of the classic games for that age group — and then I found the “Baby Shark”-branded stuff, and it was all over from there. Sorry, parents.

The other volunteers were hard at work, also, and many, many carts full of stuff later — and a lot of scanning by a dedicated cashier — we had purchased $10,773.37 worth of toys. The Cheer Fund paid $10,000, and Toys for Tots covered the difference.

Between what we purchased at Walmart and about $30,000 worth of items purchased from the toy distributor, I think Suffolk’s children will have a great Christmas this year thanks to the generosity of so many who have given to the Cheer Fund.

We have a $40,000 goal this year, and all donations, big and small, will help us get there.

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.