A single mother from Portland found herself needing help this holiday season.

She humbly talked about the day her 6-year-old son came home from school with an application for the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund. She mulled it over for a few days before finding the courage to fill it out.

A handwritten letter accompanying the application tells the story of a proud mom’s struggle to rise above the hardships she faces in life.

She works part time because of a disability, and raises three young sons, two of whom have special needs. Her income is enough to pay the rent and bills, but not enough for extras such as Christmas presents.

“It’s extremely hard,” she said in a telephone interview Friday. “This is my second time applying to the fund. I’m not usually one to ask for help. I only ask for help when necessary.”

She tucked her children into bed on Friday, then reminisced about the years she woke up on Christmas morning to find presents under the tree.

“As a child, some of my fondest memories were waking up on Christmas morning,” she said. “I want my kids to have that happiness. Seeing their smiling faces makes me smile.”

The Portland Press Herald Toy Fund in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts is using 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.

The fund – now in its 67th year – is accepting applications for toys from needy families in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties.

Applications can be downloaded at pressheraldtoyfund.org.

Call 791-6672 to have one mailed to you.

Donations to help buy the toys can be made on the website 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.

SATURDAY’S DONORS

JOCIJIANNA – Our 67th year! Happy Holidays $500

In loving memory of George and Lee $1,000

For toys! – Jean Campbell $500

From the Tzedakah Train in honor of our treasured grandchildren: Sophie, Alexander, Ben & Analisa – George and Roberta Gordon $50

Anonymous $144

In memory of Chud, who loved children $50

William Hennig $100

In loving memory of Gram and Ginger $100

Charles Soule $100

In memory of Stanley F. Sampson Jr. $50

From Sharon and Keith $25

In memory of Roland Albert from Janet Albert $50

Merry Christmas from Carson & Chris $100

In memory of our daughter, Cindy Warren Smith from Ruth & Bill Warren $100

In loving memory of Henry Binder from Dauna Binder $100

Anonymous $25

In lieu of a gift to Asher Adams so he can give to others $20

In memory of Sena & Warren Herbert and Irene & Henry Ducharme $25

From Alec Tippie in lieu of birthday gifts to him – bringing Christmas magic to families $150

Cathy Holt $50

Merry Christmas to all the policemen and women who protect us every day $100

Patricia Noonan $150

Wesley Lovejoy $50

“Sons of Quint” benefit, House of Music $700

In honor of Susan Penna Bernier and in memory of L. Philip Bernier $200

Chris and Larry Bennett $100

Cynthia Hughes $25

Merry Christmas from 9-year-old Ian Watters $25

The McKennys $500

Matt and Will $250

Laddie Deemer $100

Merry Christmas! Nancy and Tom $100

Nina Comiskey $100

Sons of Amvets, Post 2 $100

In appreciation for all we have – Deborah and Thomas Coward $100

In honor of the FPC Attic Treasure Elves $50

In memory of Uncle Ira, toy man – L. Stimpson $50

Fitwell $500

In memory of Goatie and Roxie – Love, Mya $100

In memory of Mimi, from Wayne, Kel, Ashley & Meghan $100

In honor of my parents, Phillip & Annette Cameron $250

The Groban-Fischman family $100

In memory of Marie Gerry $20

Merry Christmas! $500

In loving memory of Eddy, Chumsy and Elsa $30

Glad to help – Merry Christmas! $30

In honor of our parents, Mary & Charles Alberti and Dorothy Niles – Dick & Elaine Niles $100

Happy holidays! $100

Total to date: $92,122.60

For more information and to donate online, go to: pressheraldtoyfund.org

See more stories about the fund at pressherald.com