Thousands of Maine children are enjoying holiday gifts because of the generosity of strangers. And thousands of struggling parents know someone out there cares.
The Press Herald Toy Fund will soon wrap up its 71st holiday season. And, while the end results are the same, it has been a year like no other.
Donors rallied to meet a historic level of need 10 months into a global pandemic and recession.
“It’s been so heartening to see people step forward,” said Kathleen Meade, the toy fund’s director.
Mainers who are working from home and fared relatively well in 2020 were eager to give and help the families who have been hit hardest, she said. Many regular donors gave more this year, and many new donors joined in.
And volunteers stepped forward, too. While some regular helpers sat out because COVID-19 presents higher risks to them, those who reported for work took on the extra challenges.
“They were happy to get out of the house to do something fun and fulfilling,” Meade said. But at the same time, “they worked super hard. The physicality of it all has been intense. There were some days everyone felt overwhelmed. … The volunteers were wonderful.”
After weeks of processing applications for help, unpacking, sorting and packing toys and then distributing the gifts through contact-free curbside gift pickups, the fund is in the homestretch and will soon wind down.
But the mission continues. The charity accepts donations year-round, and before long it will start preparing for 2021. Whatever it has in store.
• THE PRESS HERALD TOY FUND in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts uses donations from readers to provide toys to thousands of Maine children who might otherwise not receive holiday gifts because of hardships faced by their parents. Now in its 71st year, the fund serves families in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, Lincoln and Knox counties.
• DONATIONS to help buy the toys can be made at pressheraldtoyfund.org or by writing checks to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund and mailing them to the fund at P.O. Box 7310, Portland, ME 04112.
• FOR MORE INFORMATION, call 791-6672 or go to: pressheraldtoyfund.org.
Merry Christmas & Joyous Wishes! The Ladies of the Women’s Riverside Thursday League $530
Stephen Brann $100
Corner Stone Chapter O.E.S. Past Matrons $15
To help out the Toy Fund. Happy Holidays! USI Insurance $1,500
Paul & Margaret $100
Facebook Fundraiser $65
Lawrence & Karan Miller $100
Karen & Chuck Strandbery $100
In memory of Bruce Roberts and Matt Barron $50
From Allie, in memory of Rusty and Mittens $35
Merry Christmas! Alice Rohman $30
Goodwill to all! Love, Momo and two grandchildren $70
Thank you, Special Ones – Buddy, Linda, Buddy, Jen, Gracie. From Dianne $200
Thank you & Merry Christmas! Shawnee, Jenny, Camilla – Dianne $100
Inspired by Victoria Hugo-Vidal $20
For Mert & Prudy $100
From our grandchildren – Avery, Ruby, Peter – for a brighter Christmas for others. $100
Patricia Knittel $250
Merry Christmas to the kids! $50
Francesca Spross $50
In memory of Eddie Murphy $25
Dona & Michael Boissonneault $100
Constance & Thomas Conroy $50
Elisabeth Paige $50
In honor of Kelly, Erik, Christine, Mark, Meredith, Kristy, John, Landon, Jack & Evan $100
Leslie & Edward Garber $100
Ellie & Charlie Miller $50
In loving memory of Grady Pierce, from his family $100
Tom and Beth Burrage $100
Best wishes from the staff of the Inn at St. John $200
Year-to-date total: $239,746.25