VanDorn encourages community to support Cheer Fund

Published 8:11 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

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Tamra VanDorn recalls tiptoeing down the stairs with her little brother to see what Santa had left for them Christmas morning.

It’s her favorite childhood memory and inspires her to join with the Suffolk Rotary Club in raising funds for the Cheer Fund to ensure local children have the same this year.

“I can still hear our gasps of excitement,” said VanDorn, a Rotarian and Headmaster at Suffolk Christmas Academy. “My brother got a cowboy hat and rocking horse. He was rocking so fast; I thought the horse would come off the springs.”

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Plus that year she said she got her first bike.

“A visit from Santa was more valuable than the gifts,” VanDorn said. “It affirmed I was a good girl and loved. Every child deserves the same affirmation and love.”

She said this is why she believes the Cheer Fund is so important to support.

“It gives hope to children in our community,” she said in a Thursday interview.

VanDorn became a Rotarian five years ago and learned how the club’s commitment to the Cheer Fund is an integral part of its culture.

“During our annual Christmas auction, we raise funds to be used by Cheer Fund in the next calendar year,” she said. “Members are encouraged to make personal contributions, as well.”

It is local efforts such as these that help the Cheer Fund reach its $40,000 goal to help provide toys under the tree for children in Suffolk.

With families continuing to face challenges on many fronts, VanDorn said she believes more families than ever are in need of assistance this year.

“Every child deserves to have gifts under the tree at Christmas,” she said. “The innocence of children and the hope they inspire make this season magical. We should all do our part to lift up our families in need.”

The Cheer Fund was started by the newspaper during the Great Depression to provide clothes and food for needy families. It eventually began providing toys for children and teamed up with the Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.

These days, this program of the newspaper is its own nonprofit, with an independent board, and each year collects roughly $40,000 from individuals, groups and foundations in the community. This money goes directly to the purchase of toys by the Salvation Army.

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper office, 157 N. Main St., from 9 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.