Cheer Fund sets new record raising $49,425

Published 6:28 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

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Suffolk residents and businesses proved just how generous they are in 2022 as their contributions pushed the Cheer Fund to an all-time record.

The final numbers are in for the campaign that began with a $40,000 goal that was met prior to Christmas Day. As of Thursday, Feb. 1, the fund had raised $49,425.

For Cheer Fund Head Elf Margie Wiley, she said she doesn’t even know where to begin talking about the level of generosity expressed by so many in 2022.

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“Each year we do this program, you hope and pray that the generosity of others will come through,” Wiley said. “And each year I am amazed by the citizens of our city to give back to others during the Christmas holiday season. Thank you does not begin to sum it up.”

Wiley said it’s difficult to put a finger on what makes the Cheer Fund so successful each year.

“It may have to do with the fact that everyone is struggling just a little bit more this year and since you experience that struggle personally, you are more likely to want to help others,” she said. “I believe the word about what the Cheer Fund does each year for the children in Suffolk also go out and people were talking about it more. That helped.”

News-Herald Publisher Betty Ramsey said 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.

“It’s impressive to see how the Suffolk community comes together to provide Christmas toys for local children in need,” Ramsey said. “It’s remarkable that this year, in a time when people were battling inflation, that they stepped up and helped the Cheer Fund raise a record amount of money.”

Both Wiley and Ramsey hope the additional money raised will provide a great start for the 2023 Cheer Fund campaign that will start later this year.

“It does mean that we have more funds to be able to assist again, but folks should not stop giving during our next holiday campaign later this year,” Wiley said. “Each year we see the need grow and each year we serve more families.”

Ramsey said she hopes the fund can exceed $50,000 next year so more children will have presents under the tree Christmas morning.

Wiley and Ramsey said they thank the community for stepping up.

“I would like to thank again all of the local community servants that graciously agreed to be featured to share their Christmas memories — Shelley Barlow, Mills Staylor, Tamra VanDorn, Gary Newsome and Billy Chorey,” Wiley said. “I would like to thank the Suffolk News-Herald for continuing to be a partner in this endeavor that was started by the paper almost 100 years ago. The Suffolk Salvation Army and Suffolk Social Services for purchasing the toys, hosting the toy shop, and making sure that the families in need are located and taken care of. And really, I would like to thank everyone that donated. Every dollar made and makes a difference.”

Ramsey expressed her appreciation to all the people, businesses and organizations who helped this year, along with the work that Wiley does each year as Head Elf to make the effort a success. She also thanked everyone involved with the Cheer Fund Board, the Salvation Army and Suffolk Social Services for their work and support of families and the children of Suffolk.

“It does take a community coming together to make great things happen,” Ramsey said. “Thank you Suffolk for showing how we all can continue to make a difference in the lives of our children.”

When asked to look ahead to the next Cheer Fund campaign, Wiley said she is “grateful for this year, and I hope that we can continue to raise funds for the children each year. This year was a banner year for the fund, but I do not want to take that for granted.”

Ramsey is pleased to see this tradition started by the newspaper continue and grow.

“In times when so many things are changing, and not for the better, the Cheer Fund is a great example of how people in a community can come together to do great things. It shows Suffolk knows how to bring the spirit of Christmas alive to put smiles on the faces of our children.”

To donate to the Cheer Fund for 2023, 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.