Cheer Fund exceeds goal with strong community support

Published 7:44 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

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Residents, organizations and businesses in Suffolk opened their hearts and their pocketbooks to help this year’s Cheer Fund exceed its goal before Christmas — the first time anyone involved can remember.

Head Elf Margie Wiley said she was thrilled to learn this week that fundraising has already passed the $40,000 mark. As of press time Friday, Dec. 23, the Cheer Fund has raised $45,275 to provide toys for children in need this year.

“This is the first time in memory of our board that we have reached this goal before the Christmas holiday,” Wiley said. “It is truly amazing and we cannot thank the community enough for their generosity to others.”

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The Cheer Fund continues to accept donations through the end of January.

Wiley said it is important for folks to continue making donations.

“Some years are leaner than others for the contribution,” she said. “Any funds above our goal allows us to use these extra funds to acquire more toys in preparation for the years that we do not do as well.”

Suffolk News-Herald Publisher Betty Ramsey said she is grateful for the outpouring of support for the Cheer Fund.

“It is inspiring to see the generosity in Suffolk as we look to brighten the holidays for our children,” Ramsey said. “Your support helps the Cheer Fund fulfill its commitment to ensure children have presents under the tree. I want to extend a special thank you to everyone who worked so hard this year to help us exceed our goal for the first time prior to Christmas day.”

Wiley said she now hopes the city’s children will feel safe and loved at Christmas. “For me, giving to others started early in my family. Our church parish would have a Christmas toy drive each year,” she said..” My sister and I participated in the youth group in wrapping the toys and then helping Santa give them away. The memory of seeing my neighbors come and get toys from Santa has stayed with me and it is why I am honored to assist with the Cheer Fund each year.”

Wiley said she also encourages families to have their children become involved in giving at an early age as hers did.

She said she wanted to especially send a thank you to the community leaders who shared stories of their childhood memories this year.

“It was truly special to read each one — Shelley Barlow, Mills Staylor, Tamra VanDorn, Gary Newsome and Billy Chorey,” Wiley said. “I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a prosperous New Year to come. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you again for helping us reach our goal!”

Ramsey also extended her appreciation to Head Elf Margie Wiley for all she does to support the Cheer Fund each year.

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.