Community’s willingness to help fuels Cheer Fund

The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund is Bartholomew County’s oldest charity still in existence, still lumbering along at 87 years old.

This year it plans to distribute toys to about 1,300 children — making Christmas brighter and more memorable for families than it would be without the helping hand.

But how does the Cheer Fund keep providing so much assistance year after year? From outpourings of support from kindhearted residents, businesses and organizations.

For example, when shelves were running bare of toys for boys ages 8-12 and girls 7-12 in the Cheer Fund warehouse, inside the United Way of Bartholomew County building, Cheer Fund board member Ben Noblitt shared the situation on social media, asking for assistance so the final 300 to 500 children on the charity’s list would receive toys.

Residents responded in a big way, flooding local fire stations with bags and bags of new and used toys. Firefighters collected six trailer loads of toys in all.

Businesses and organizations have been a huge help, too.

The Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and toy manufacturer JAKKS Pacific Toy Co. have partnered to distribute toys to 2,000 children from the Columbus area by working with four charitable groups: Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund, Shop with a Cop, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center.

A sampling of the assistance by the basketball franchises and the toy manufacturer was shown Dec. 5 when 75 of the children — first-graders from Columbus Signature Academy-Lincoln Campus and Little lambs Childcare Ministry at Sandy Hook Church — received toys during an event at The Commons.

Additionally, attendees at two Hoosier Pro Wrestling events donated more than $3,200 in cash, toys and bicycles, and a toy drive at IUPUC produced a large donation.

It’s evident that the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund holds a special place in the hearts of many people, and when the call for help comes they’re ready and eager to assist. And in doing so, they have helped create brighter Christmas memories for thousands of children over more than eight decades.