The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund is known as the oldest charity in Bartholomew County that depends solely on public donations for its existence. It is one of several efforts within the Columbus Community at Christmas
to provide the needy with useful gifts and a meaningful experience.
The Firemen’s Cheer Fund was founded by the Columbus Fire Department in 1930, when some caring firemen realized that poor children probably see few, if any, gifts under a Christmas tree. City firemen banded together that Christmas to hold a party for some 50 needy children to whom they gave presents, using $1,500 dollars collected from the community.
Firemen re-instituted the fund in 1948 and added a new wrinkle; that of delivering the gifts. To this day the public still helps delivering the gifts and food baskets. Community Picnics were held from 1949 to 1951 at Donner
Center, The Crump Theater, and the Indiana National Guard Armory, which was then located at Seventh and Franklin streets.
In 1949, the Cheer Fund gave its first bicycle, and from that Christmas forward, the refurbished bikes are among the most popular gifts the fund gives. Today local bike shops as well as Boy Scout groups help refurbish and repair bicycles, which are distributed to all children who request them. By 1949 some 400 children were receiving toys and treats at the parties at Christmas time.
Today the Cheer Fund continues to reach for new heights, and explore new ways to help out during the holiday season. In 2006 the Cheer Fund provided 148 smoke detectors for families that couldn’t afford them. In 2008 the
Cheer Fund was able to provide 2040 kids with gifts, the most it has ever been able to do. Today’s annual fundraisers include the chili cook-off, Radio Control Air Show and many,
many more. In 2020 the Cheer Fund opened a dedicated Cheer Fund facility at 2674 Verhulst St. This 8000 sq ft. facility,owned and operated by the Cheer Fund, is now the permanent home of the Cheer Fund operations. In 2020 the Cheer Fund announced that it was doing away with used toys and only accepting and distributing new toys. We are excited for the opportunities this facility will provide for our beloved organization, and we look forward to your visit in the near future.
The Cheer Fund is coordinated through the efforts of the City of Columbus Firemen, with the assistance from a volunteer Board of Directors. Each year it depends on volunteer contributions from the public to reach a monetary goal for the purchase of new toys and food for underprivileged children in Bartholomew County. Also, the Cheer Fund depends on the public in helping with toy sorting, boxing, and delivering of gift boxes and food baskets. The public also brings in hundreds of used toys to be cleaned and refurbished for distribution.
The times are always changing and the Cheer Fund continues to adapt and conform to today’s standards. You can now find the Cheer Fund online at its website; www.cheerfund.org or on facebook. The faces on the Cheer Fund change as firemen retire and children receiving toys grow up, but the Cheer Fund keeps as its purpose the thoughts of the firemen founding the charity in the 1930’s.
REMEMBERING THE NEEDY AND UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN AT CHRISTMAS