The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund is seeing the first stages of a dream firefighters have had for about 88 years — a permanent home for the charity that provides a Christmas for underprivileged kids.
A building pad is in place for a new Cheer Fund facility, just off the back door north of the Columbus Public Safety Training Facility currently under construction in the Columbus AirPark on the city’s north side.
By attaching the new 80-feet by 100-feet Cheer Fund headquarters to the north side of the training facility, and connecting the buildings with interior doors, those in training can utilize some of the Cheer Fund building, and vice versa during November and December, Cheer Fund co-chairman Justin Sims said.
For several years, the Cheer Fund has been setting aside some money each year for a building fund, and has even been able to obtain some grant money, Sims said.
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Not only did the firefighters have enough money to obtain the land, but Sims said he believes they have sufficient funding to begin putting up the shell and roof of the building this summer.
“We will still need to raise funds to build the interior,” Sims said. “We’d like to have a little office, a kitchenette and restrooms.”
The new Cheer Fund building will offer volunteer drivers the ability to drive straight in, pick up gift boxes, and drive straight out without encountering any sharp turns each December, he said.
While it’s possible that gift box loading could take place at the new location this December, Sims says there are other locations that could be used for Bartholomew County’s oldest charity still in operation — just in case the site isn’t ready due to unexpected factors such as weather or an unavailability of building contractors.
Sims said the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund will always be in the debt of former United Way of Bartholomew County executive director Doug Otto, where warehouse space was provided for the gift effort year-round.
It was Otto who first allowed the Cheer Fund to use the United Way warehouse at 1531 13th St., which has served as the charity’s headquarters for the past seven years, Sims said.
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For more information about the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer fund and its history, visit: columbus.in.gov/fire/programs-events/cheer-fund/