Her daughter demanded answers.

Where did these gifts really come from? Why do we struggle every day? Why don’t we have a television, but still have all these gifts on Christmas morning?

The single mother from Brunswick calmly explained to her 12-year-old daughter how their family continued to celebrate Christmas while she worked two jobs and struggled just to pay the bills and provide for her three children.

“I was more than happy to tell her all about the kind-hearted, altruistic souls who go out of their way to give kids like her a great Christmas,” the mother wrote. “Rather than be upset, she found it to be more touching than the fiction that we spin.”

For 61 years, the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund has provided families like this one with gifts they may not have been able to afford at the holidays.

A year ago, readers of The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram donated more than $260,000 to the fund, to buy gifts for children as old as 18 in Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and York counties.

“I simply cannot imagine a community more supportive to raising children,” wrote the mother in Brunswick.

Now, in the days leading up to Christmas, her daughter stays up late each night to help her prepare for the holidays, and tells her two younger brothers stories of Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and the Polar Express. It’s her small way of giving back. Because, as her mother said, “Santa always comes through. Hopefully, this continues to be the case.”

And the recipients? Someday, many will give back.

That’s the promise that some applicants made in their letters to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund this holiday season.

A single mother of two children in Westbrook shuttled through state custody while she was growing up, and now is determined to provide a better childhood for her 2-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. Her weekly paycheck goes to paying the bills to support herself and her children.

But she aspires to go to college, earn a degree and provide for her family.

“I make their life the best I can, something I never had,” she wrote. “I’m so proud of my kids, and they mean the world to me. Please help me give my kids a good Christmas.”

She’s made a vow. She plans to give back to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund, saying, “I believe that when you do good, you get good.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]


Here are the latest donations to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund: 

Previously acknowledged: $86,267.06

In memory of Charlie and Betty Lawson $125

Merry Christmas — Sam and Marge DiBiase $40

Unum U/W Group Support $225

In memory of Steve and Marie — Stephen Graney $25

Gilbert’s Chowder House $100

Beatrice Lord $50

Anonymous $25

In memory of Susan Harvey — Meghan and Erin O’Donavan $100

Michael Conley Jr. $100

In loving memory of Eleanor Goodwin $25

Bill and Julie Lawlor $10

Silberstein/Marshall family $200

Thanks for all you do! — Rocky DeVinney $50

In memory of those who have served — Cape Elizabeth Fire Department Engine Co. No. 1 $300

In loving memory of Great-grammy Rachel $50

In loving memory of our parents Anna and Domenico Floridino and Philis Peverada. Love, Tony, Angie Peverada and family $100

In memory of Laurence Bogner $100

Sons of Amvets, Post 2 $100

In memory of Roger J. Gagnon, “Mr. Flag” $100

Rick and Kathryn Davis $25

In loving memory of Melvin and Ella Folland — Steve $50

In loving memory of John and Lorraine Feeney — Cindy $50

In memory of two women who lived exemplary lives and passed away in 2010: Connie Scully Sr. and her sister, Eileen M. Cullinan $25

In loving memory of John and Nancy Nicholas $25

Anonymous $100

In memory of my very special wife, Joyce! — E.W. Freeman $200

We love you Charlie — the Harris-Gips family $100

In loving memory of Russ Lord, and Flora and Howard Whipple $100

In memory of Dorothy Legassie from her loving family $300

Slapshot $25

In memory of Marjorie Ladd and her Christmas Spirit — the Thurlows $100

In memory of Mary D. Marden and Dennison M. Landry $25

Terrence and Joan Parent $100

Terry and Diane Snow $100

Michael and Mary Booth $300

Kermit & Suzanne McCormack $100

Westbrook Assembly #356, Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree $100

Lance and Daisy $100

“Sophie” Watson $15

Donald E. Starr $100

Door Services Inc. $200

Robert and Ann Rossi $30

In memory of Chester — Arrolyn $10

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 1 $25

In memory of Granna Hilly and Woody $100

In memory of Bob Dout $100

Corner Stone Chapter #193 Order of the Eastern Star Past Matrons Association $25

Happy Holidays from Sunny $50

Remembering Tim Carr, who entered heaven on 12/18/09 $250

Don and Nancy Foshay $100

In loving memory of my husband, Henry $50

Tewhey Associates $100

Today’s total: $4,905

Total to date: $91,172.06