By Amanda Browning Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — 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.
Previously, the food delivered by the Cheer Fund was a traditional holiday meal, but in recent years, organizers have opted for a larger supply of simple foods that are easy for children to prepare for themselves. The food lasts longer during the extended break from school and helps already-strapped food budgets for the family. The change has been very popular with Cheer Fund recipients.
The Daily News would like to announce the kickoff of the Cheer Fund for the 2013 season. Applications are now being accepted at the Daily News office at 135 South Franklin Street. Applications must be received in the Daily News office by December 10 to be considered for Cheer Fund assistance. Families wishing to apply may receive their application in the newspaper, at the Daily News office or online at the Cheer Fund website, www.cheerfund.org.
Along with Cheer Fund accepting applications, donations are now being taken as well. Monetary donations are always welcome and are tax deductible. A list of needed items for food boxes and gifts will be featured in a future edition of the Daily News. Donations may be made at the Daily News office or online at the Cheer Fund website.
So far, $925 has been raised for Cheer Fund in 2013. While no final goal has been set as of yet because it will be unclear how many families will require assistance until closer to Thanksgiving, last year the Cheer Fund had a goal of $49,000 and finished the holiday season just over their goal, raising $50,429. Daily News publisher Laura Welborn reported the extra money was used to purchase additional gifts, as all the money raised by Cheer Fund is used for the children. Volunteers donate their time, as does the board who organizes Cheer Fund. There are no salaries or overhead costs either, enabling the charity to use the entirety of funds raised to provide a better Christmas for local children.
Future editions of the Daily News will contain updates about Cheer Fund, along with the list of needed items for donation. Anyone wishing to volunteer their time to help with sorting gifts, assembling boxes for families or delivering packages as part of the Cheer Fund “Elf Brigade” on Christmas Eve morning, should contact the Cheer Fund through the “Contact Us” section on the website. The organization may also be contacted through their Facebook page or by calling 812-663-3111.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004