Cheering for Volunteering: the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund
Smiles, helping hands, and gifts are all passed around at the United Way building as volunteers help select and pack gifts for the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund. Founded by the Columbus Fire Department in 1930, their goal is to provide children in need with Christmas presents that they are not able to receive. The charity is volunteer and donation based, giving community members like freshman Kelsey White an opportunity to help out.
“This will be my second year volunteering,” White said. “My big sister was the president of Key Club and had volunteered for three years, so last year she brought my little sister and I along.”
Wednesday night, White attended a session where she helped the process of choosing gifts for all the children.
“They take in used and new toys, books and stuffed animals from anyone who is willing to donate. They separate everything at United Way and then volunteers can come in and help pack it all up,” White said.
The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund takes contributions to purchase new toys and food also relying on the help of the community. Volunteers can sort toys, clean and renew used toys, box them, and deliver gift boxes and food baskets. Part of the Cheer Fund is making Christmas special to each child, which is why each gift is catered to the child.
“They have papers that tell the child’s age and what they like, and then volunteers go around choosing the things they think the child would like. It’s kind of like going on a shopping spree for someone else,” White said.
This year, each child gets four new toys, three used toys, two books, a stuffed animal, and three stocking stuffers. The Cheer Fund encaptures the gift of giving, and finding happiness in helping those in need.
“It makes you appreciate what you have in life,” White said. “I mostly enjoy finding out at the end how many boxes we have filled and how many families we have provided for.”
The charity’s record was set in 2008, when they were able to provide 2,040 children with gifts for the holidays.
“It is very important to have these kind of organizations because not everyone can afford to have a big Christmas with lots of toys. This lets any parents that cannot afford gifts get them for free and then they are able to give the kids the Christmas they would love!” White said.
The Cheer Fund has many opportunities to volunteer, and have group sessions at the United Way building Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. More information can be found on their website, cheerfund.com.
“It’s really fun. It also makes you appreciate what you have in life,” White said. “That’s what I love about Columbus . . . Everyone comes together to help each other out just out of kindness. Columbus is really lucky to have something as great as this.”