PORTLAND – People have many reasons to turn to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund for help making Christmas a little better for their children.

A parent may have lost a job, become ill or been hit with unexpected medical bills. The house may have needed an expensive repair, or a car may have had to be replaced, making a budget that was tight no longer realistic for holiday presents.

In these tough economic times, even people with jobs may find that the paycheck doesn’t cover all of the monthly bills and the cost of presents under a tree.

One woman wrote to the fund to say that her husband lost his job when the company he worked for moved its production facilities overseas. He has since found a seasonal job, but “after getting behind on our bills in the last six months, we have little to no funds available to spend on toys.”

“I hope that there is enough room for our family on your list,” she wrote.

Another woman noted that she moved to Maine to be closer to her family while her husband’s military unit was in Afghanistan for a year. Even though he was being paid by the military, a son’s health problems and other costs associated with the move to Maine “have caused stress in our financial situation,” she said.

And a woman whose past year included breast cancer and the need to change jobs noted that those circumstances made it hard to provide presents for her two daughters this year. “We are finally starting to get back on our feet, but could use just a little bit of help during the holiday season,” she said.

At a time when nearly one person in 10 is without a job, people realize they are lucky to be employed, even if their pay has been cut.

But that sense of relative good fortune isn’t something that children can grasp. All they know is that Santa brings toys and goodies at Christmas, and they don’t want a somber economics lesson on Christmas morning.

To make sure that children in Cumberland, York, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Knox counties don’t lose their belief in the possibilities of the season, the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund provides gift packs for children 18 and younger. Last year, the fund raised a record $260,000 to buy those presents, which are age- and gender-appropriate.

The woman who had breast cancer and made job changes provided the right perspective. Despite her health problems and the economy, she noted that she is the mother of two little girls, “which makes me one of the luckiest people on the planet.”


Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]