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Haddad holds musical memories

Editor’s Note: The Suffolk News-Herald will be sharing Christmas memories of notable locals in the weeks leading up to Christmas in order to help promote the Cheer Fund.

Mary Haddad has a variety of Christmas memories, but one thing that stands out in most of them is the presence of music.

She has three brothers who were musicians, and she is a talented singer herself. When she and her family went visiting at Christmastime when they were young, they would stand outside and sing Christmas carols instead of ringing the doorbell.

“We sang until they heard us and opened the door,” Haddad said. Since they did most of their visiting to family in Ohio and New York, “We were really glad when they heard us pretty fast,” she said.

Another memory from her younger years is an especially poignant homemade project. Her mother would take a Quaker Oats container, cut out part of the side and put some straw next to it. When the children did good deeds throughout December, they would be allowed to add a piece of straw to the homemade cradle. The goal was to have a soft spot for the baby Jesus to rest by the time Christmas came.

More recently, music has made an appearance in her Christmas memories in the form of the candlelight service at Oakland Christian Church, Haddad said.

“It’s such a beautiful event to share with family and friends, and it brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “I can’t make it through ‘Silent Night.’”

Haddad also recalls seeing the magic in her own children’s eyes on Christmas morning when they found their gifts from Santa — a maximum of three per child, she said.

The desire for children to find something under the tree on Christmas morning is a reason she supports the Cheer Fund, she said.

“It would be terrible to wake up on Christmas morning and have nothing under the tree and know that all around the world, people are waking up to gifts under the tree,” she said. “When you have parents and guardians who could not otherwise afford to get gifts for their children, and the Cheer Fund helps, I just think that’s such a great gift.”

The Cheer Fund is an annual effort by the Suffolk community to provide toys for children from disadvantaged families. The Cheer Fund provides approximately $40,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase toys every year.

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper’s temporary office, 157 N. Main St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday 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.

Online giving is available through the link on the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page. For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 757-539-3437.