Your Cheer Fund donation matters

Published 10:45 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

Last week, I wrote a first-person account on the front page about my shopping experience.

It’s quite unusual for any newspaper, let alone ours, to publish first-person writings on the front. But it was an unusual experience.

If you missed it, I went shopping along with several other Salvation Army volunteers and staff members at Walmart, where we purchased about $10,000 in toys using money from the Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund.

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After 13 years helping to raise money for the Cheer Fund, this was the second year I had volunteered to help shop at Walmart. Furthering my quest to see every side of the goodness of Cheer Fund, this year I also volunteered at the toy shop last week helping parents shop for gifts for their children.

All I really did was man the oversized cart (those things are hard to drive!), pack the gifts in giant black bags to hide them from the kids at home, and wheel the cart to another volunteer who helped the parents out to their car. The parents had fun choosing their kids’ gifts from a wide selection.

For each age and gender group, there were about 15 toys that had been purchased in bulk with Cheer Fund money, so there were multiple items available of each toy. There was also the array of items that had been bought with the Cheer Fund money at Walmart as well as toys donated to Toys for Tots at the white donation boxes around town.

Parents were able to select three big gifts per child, plus gift-filled stockings or stocking stuffers, a puzzle or game for the family and a doll or stuffed animal for the younger children.

Everyone was grateful, but one particular mom I had early in my shift really made it all worth it. She had never received toys from the Cheer Fund before and was overwhelmed when she first entered the Salvation Army’s big gymnasium on Bank Street. But by the end, she was near tears and couldn’t believe all the gifts she had received.

It was an overwhelming morning for me, too. It’s always quite an experience to see the culmination of your work, especially when you’re not always privy to it. And while it’s not quite the amount of work of our publications themselves, the Suffolk News-Herald puts in a lot of effort on the Cheer Fund each year.

I’m sad to report that for whatever reason — whether it’s fears about the economy, the loss of a few days in the season thanks to the lateness of Thanksgiving, or some other reason — donations to the Cheer Fund have been slow to come in this year, more than any prior year that I can recall.

We are incredibly thankful for those who have already donated, but we are a long way from our goal of $40,000. So if you are able, please give. It’s OK if your donation comes in after Christmas; we won’t close out this giving season until early January.

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.

Online giving is available through the link on the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page.

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, please call me at 934-9609.