March 12, 2010

After leaving abusive partners, moms seek some cheer for kids

ELBERT AULL

— By

Staff Writer

Christmas Day memories aren't all hope and cheer for one York County woman. Two years ago, her husband beat her on the holiday, in plain view of her children.

The man spent nearly a month in jail after the assault. It traumatized her two boys and convinced the woman to file for divorce.

She is now unemployed, trying to find enough work to pay the bills without keeping a schedule that will take her out of her children's lives.

Rising counseling costs for her children and an unexpected car repair bill convinced her to seek help from the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund this year.

''I have never been in such a situation before, and I don't care about me, but my boys? It's so hard to watch them grieve the loss of their father,'' she said.

The York County woman is among a handful seeking help from the toy fund this holiday season after fleeing unhealthy relationships and finding themselves stretched thin financially.

The toy fund provides holiday gifts to children in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties thanks to donations from readers of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

Last year, the fund provided toys for 7,200 children ranging from infants to 18-year-olds. The toy fund had already eclipsed that mark Thursday -- a day before Friday's deadline to apply for the program.

A poor economy left many charities with increased demands for services and a decreased supply of contributions this holiday season.

Bruce Roberts director Kathleen Meade said the fund is keeping pace with last year's giving, despite the tough economy. The fund received nearly $42,000 in donations as of Friday; it had processed almost $36,000 at the same time last year.

The number of volunteers is also holding steady, with a crew of about 150 working to pack and distribute toys at the fund's Congress Street warehouse.

''We're holding our own,'' Meade said.

Leaving a failed relationship or abusive partner is often cited by applicants as reasons they seek help from the toy fund. This year is no different.

Some single parents said they left after a lone incident of domestic violence. Others found a way out after years of abuse.

One divorced mother of five from York County said she gave up her home-based business after she left an abusive relationship and sold the home she and her ex-husband once shared.

Now, she's in college trying to become a nurse. At the same time, she must care for four children who live at home and another away at college.

''Financially, I am in a very bad situation. I have never had to ask for help like this and I feel terrible having to do it, but for my children's sake, I am,'' the woman said.

Staff Writer Elbert Aull can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

eaull@pressherald.com

TODAY'S DONORS

Previously acknowledged

$38,849.50

In memory of Mary and Brooks, from Ellen McDonough $100

Tracy Harrington $100

Georgina M. Irving $100

On behalf of Tim Wall $25

John J. Wall III and Dina A. Jellison $25

Frank and Eileen Frye $50

May this donation bring some happiness to the needy children, from Tina and Johnny $15

Ruth Spiller $30

Walter and Karen Rumery $10

In memory of Myrle and John Low

$25

In memory of Katie Dykes, from Meghan and Nancy $25

Christine Robichaud $50

In memory of Thelma Gipe, from Barbara Blake Blackwell $20

Merry Christmas to Miss Becky, Miss Helena and Miss Jacky, from Rachael, Noelle and Julia $25

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Scanlan $50

In memory of John F. Porter Sr., from Grampa's boys and Papa's girls $30

Merry Christmas to Nanny and Jim Ricker, with love, Cole and Hannah Rosengren $30

In memory of P.T.W., Tom and Krista, from Mrs. Arline P. Williams $30

In loving memory of our son Shawn $25

In memory of Diana, from Thornton Candage $25

In memory of Danny P., who loved Christmas, from Gram K. $10

In loving memory of my parents Isabelle and Harold Schumacher, from Doris Lyons $25

In loving memory of Paula Ross, Hildur McDougall, Edwin Cleaves and Shirley Grant, from Sue and Skip McDougall $100

In honor of our children Heath, Eric and Erin, from Mary and Lonnie Floyd $50

Dana and Kimberly Libby $50

Anonymous $100

In memory of parents and loved ones, from Joyce Jewett $25

Merry Christmas from John and Pat $35

Gaston Lee $60

In memory of Peter Duda and S.E. Nulton $50

Just a friend $10

Carlton and Joan Leach $100

Maine Medical Center, Engineering Department staff $235

Lynda Leavitt $100

In loving memory of my mother Louise M. Wilkins $100

In lieu of a gift to Judy West $50

Carolyn and Roland Buteau $40

Stephen and Janette Davis $50

Cam and Jack Weir $30

For our grandchildren, from Susan and Louis Vellone $25

In loving memory of our parents Ralph and Hazel Moore $25

Helene Albert $25

Jack and Jill $100

Ronald Brown $25

Woman's Federation, Immanuel Baptist Church $25

In loving memory of Grandma Dot, from Colin, Liam, Maggie, Thomas, Ethan and Carter $75

Marion Fuller Brown -- Ramshead Farm $50

In memory of Roger J. Gagnon, ''Mr. Flag'' -- the Gagnon family $100

Ceres Circle of Cape Elizabeth Grange # 242 $10

E. Jane and James Lombard $25

George Calvert and Maryaustin Dowd $400

Richard and Gretchen Terhune $100

In memory of Andy, from Rose Sinclair $25

Today's Total $3,020

Total to Date $41,869.50

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