HIGH POINT — The Christmas season has arrived in High Point, and with it a tradition of giving that spans nearly a century.

The 2020 Christmas Cheer Fund drive officially kicks off today.

In its 97th year, the annual campaign, organized by the High Point Kiwanis Club, raises money to buy Christmas presents for underserved children in the greater High Point community. The club raises the money in conjunction with The High Point Enterprise, which publishes updates listing contributors and the amount of money raised.

This year’s goal is to raise $40,000, which will be used to buy gifts for about 150 children identified through the Boys and Girls Clubs of High Point.

The Kiwanis Club last year changed the way gifts were distributed to local children. Instead of purchasing gifts ahead of time and holding an event to distribute them, the Kiwanis, with the help of local agencies that serve underprivileged youths, took the children on a shopping spree at Target, allowing them to choose their own presents.

The plan was to do the same thing this year until the pandemic struck, said Bobby Jones, chairman of the Kiwanis Club’s Christmas Cheer Fund Committee.

“Unfortunately, for safety reasons, we’re not going to do the in-store shopping experience this year,” he said, adding that the club hopes to resume in-store shopping next year.

Instead, money raised this year will be used by the Boys and Girls Clubs to allow children to do their own supervised online shopping at Target.com.

This year’s Kiwanis Club Cheer Fund Committee members are Jones, Wiley Stockton, Ed Thomas, Jim Horney, Mark Seagle, Joan Campbell, Lynn Johnson, Kenny Mack, Ellen Amick and Steve Uhlin.

The fund drive was started in 1924 by The High Point Enterprise as a campaign to raise money for needy families. A front page article published Dec. 12, 1924, said, “Local organizations, such as the Rotary, Kiwanis and Civitan clubs, are to aid in taking care of these families.” The initial campaign collected $848.

The responsibility for the campaign has changed over the years. It was operated as an Empty Stocking Fund by the High Point Jaycees for about 30 years, after which it was passed around among different private local residents and groups.

When the last local nonprofit charitable organization owner, the late Benny Braica, retired in the 1990s, the High Point Kiwanis Club took over what’s now called the Christmas Cheer Fund. The Kiwanis Club is now in its 25th year of operating the fund.

Previous donors should have received letters and postpaid return envelopes for making a contribution this year. Donations should be made out to the Christmas Cheer Fund and sent to P.O. Box 5467, High Point, NC 27262.

A total of contributions and a list of contributors will be published Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays during the campaign in The High Point Enterprise beginning Thanksgiving Day and running through Christmas. In early January, a listing of all donations to this year’s campaign will be printed.

jfeeney@hpenews.com

336-888-3542 | @HPEJoe

jfeeney@hpenews.com | 336-888-3542 | @HPEJoe