good cheer fund

While most children want toys, others lack basic essentials around the holiday season.

Last year, a North Charleston mother of three reached out to a local mission group. She worked night shifts at a gas station but couldn’t afford shoes, socks and play clothes for her children.

Star Gospel Mission was able to help her out through donations provided through the Good Cheer Fund.

“She wasn’t asking for a new bike, DVD player or a cellphone,” said the Rev. Bill Christian, head of Star Gospel Mission. “It was, ‘my kids need clothing.' ”

The Good Cheer Fund was established in 1927 by Thomas P. Lesesne, former managing editor of The News and Courier. Since its founding, the effort has raised $9,153,887.42 to house the homeless, feed the hungry and tend to the sick.

The Post and Courier will publish more stories over the next few weeks of how Good Cheer donations can help improve the lives of others.

The fund benefits seven agencies: Coastal Catholic Charities, Carolina Youth Development Center, Lowcountry Food Bank, Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired SC, The Salvation Army, Star Gospel Mission and Charleston Leadership Foundation.

The Charleston Leadership Foundation joined the effort last year. Executive Director Kathryn Krogh said it gives the organization an opportunity to be “the hands and feet of Christ” in a world where people low on funds sometimes suffer.

“Money being tight means something different to each one of us,” she said. “For some right here in our area, money being tight means the kids can’t go to the cabinets and find food.”

Agencies noted how the donations will help people in a variety of ways.

Suzette Dunlap with The Salvation Army spoke about a newborn whose medical condition recently required life-changing surgeries. The mother quit her job to attend to the child, and the family struggled financially last year.

The Salvation Army provided monetary assistance and Christmas gifts.

Rocío Maldonado, site administrator of Catholic Charities, recalled one woman who injured her spine in a work-related accident. She suffered a major loss of income while living on temporary disability and fell behind on electric bills.

Catholic Charities stepped in and helped her keep the lights on.

Maldonado said Good Cheer donations allows the charity group to offer clients a hand up, providing them a “piece of the puzzle” that is needed to establish some stability.

“The Good Cheer Fund has allowed us to reach people we would not normally be able to reach,” Maldonado said. “People in our community have needs that cannot always be met with limited resources, and our agency is so very grateful to receive this help.”

The Star Gospel Mission will use donations to help people purchase groceries in an annual giveaway. The mission will hand out $70 Bi-Lo gift cards at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 2. at 474 Meeting St. Guests must be at least 30 years old and must have a valid ID and Social Security card.

The line will be long for the popular giveaway. Last year, people lined up as early as Sunday morning for the Monday event. The organization gave out 800 cards.

Follow Rickey Dennis on Twitter @RCDJunior.