GREENSBURG – Every year, the Greensburg Daily News, with the help of volunteers, operates the Cheer Fund to provide gifts and a variety of kid-friendly foods to many needy families in Decatur County.
In 1911, Daily News publisher James Caskey saw a need in the city and started the Cheer Fund to assist the less fortunate families in Greensburg. He passed away in 1915, but his wife continued in his name until 1918, spreading the generosity and goodwill that inspired Caskey to start the Cheer Fund. With the exception of two years during the Great Depression, the non-profit organization has been active and helping families for more than a century.
Daily News publishers since Caskey have taken the spirit of the Cheer Fund to heart, constantly striving to grow the program, serve more families and bring Christmas to life for children, regardless of their family situation. In 1947, Daily News publisher Walter Lowe expanded the Cheer Fund service area to include the entire county, insisting that families who didn’t live in Greensburg should be eligible for assistance as well.
The need among families in the county has grown considerably with the passage of time. In 1968, the Cheer Fund assisted 88 families in Decatur County. In 2012, the morning of Christmas Eve saw food and gift packages, along with clothing certificates, delivered to 320 Decatur County families, with more than 830 children among them.
Each year, applications are taken for families requesting Cheer Fund assistance. Using SNAP criteria, the applicants with the most need are approved. Cheer Fund is intended to assist families with children old enough to understand the concept of Christmas. Infants are not eligible for Cheer Fund, not because the organizers don’t care, but because the need is so great among preschool and school-age children.
Once all the applications have been received, all the donations have come in, and all the gifts purchased, crews of volunteers begin sorting the gifts by age ranges and whether the gift is intended for a boy or a girl. Families receive a box of food, age appropriate toys for children and clothing certificates for local businesses worth between $30 and $50 for each child.