March 18, 2010

Donors of all types help needy children

NOEL K

— By . GALLAGHER

Staff Writer

There's no such thing as a typical Bruce Roberts Toy Fund donor.

Every year, donations large and small pour in to help provide toys to children in need. Children collect pennies in classrooms, raid their piggy banks or donate their chore money. Businesses put jars on the counter and send along the proceeds. Corporations make it part of their holiday charity drive or make a donation in lieu of a gift exchange. Many individuals have made it part of their holiday tradition.

''The donors just all love the holidays and the kids,'' Bruce Roberts Project Director Kathleen Meade said. ''Giving toys is just about making kids happy.'' The daily list of Bruce Roberts Toy Fund donations, usually with a brief message, offers a peek at the people behind the dollar signs. Some are funny. Some are sad. Some are mysterious.

''In lieu of Christmas gifts to the laundry goddesses and laundry guy $50,'' reads one. ''J O C I J I A N N A (57 Yr) $500,'' is a perpetual donor -- and a perpetual head-scratcher. ''The staff of Cape Arundel Inn hopes this helps $750.'' ''A wee bit to help make a child happy, from Past Noble Grands of Woodbine Rebekah Lodge $10.''

Meade said she frequently gets lengthy notes, telling the story of how that person came to write a check to the toy fund.

''The ones from kids are hysterical,'' she said, reading off a recent youngster's earnest note that accompanied an $8 cashier's check, complete with typos about the ''choirs I did were shoveling and washing'' to ''colleckt'' the money so that other children could have a merry Christmas.

''It makes me laugh, but there are others that make me cry,'' Meade said.

''I am sending you this check in the amount of $200 in memory of my mother,'' another began, going on to describe her mother's difficult childhood of losing her mother in 1930 and being sent to what was then known as a ''poor farm.''

''In the years before her death, my mother talked about how embarrassed she had been. She would have loved your toy fund,'' the woman wrote.

About 80 percent of the donation are from individuals, Meade said. One thing Meade has noticed this year is that the number of original donors -- those who were there when the fund was created in 1949 -- is starting to dwindle.

''The numbers of longtime donors is down,'' she said. ''Many of them supported this from Day One.''

Many of those families have become legacy donors, however, giving money in memory of their relatives and others who had supported the fund. Frequently, Meade said, those are the families who had a relative who needed help at some point, and that is why they were so supportive of the toy fund.

''It's very nice how many families, some going two generations back, were poor at some point, and they're the ones still donating,'' she said. ''Having had that kindness paid to them, they continue it. They remember getting the help or the stories of the grandparents getting help.''

Children not only give to the fund as individual donors, but also as classroom projects. Every year, dozens of donations come in from schools ranging from nursery schools to the University of Southern Maine.

At St. John's Catholic School in Brunswick, kindergarten students made grab bags of candy and treats and sold them for 50 cents in the cafeteria, selling out quickly, according to school development director Debbie Hinds. Last year the class raised $162.20.

''We want them to learn to give back to the community,'' teacher Suzanne Cameron said. ''It's kind of nice that they earned it themselves.''

Over the years, donations have come from unlikely places, too. ''From the cows and folks at Flaggy Meadow Farm, Gorham'' read one entry last year. Another person donated ''in honor of my favorite baseball player (card) 1948 -- Johnny Wyrostek.''

No matter the amount, each donation helps to put a gift in a child's hands on Christmas morning.

Even the $14.47 from ''a little girl who wants to help kids have a happier Christmas.''

Merry Christmas to you, too.

And thank you.

Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 282-8226 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

TODAY'S DONORS

Previous $66,272.28

In memory of Pat Bailey from Marilyn Bailey $75

Family from Westbrook $10

FPL Energy Wyman Station Employees $200

William & Joyce Chayer $100

Richard & Alice Spencer $100

Stephen & Sylvia Siket $50

In memory of Parker and Joan Ryan from Bob and Jean Plocharczyk $50

Jack & Jill Britton $100

East Baldwin Congregational Church Missionary Fund $50

Lou & Sharon Campbell $100

In memory of Lorraine Nolan from Bob & Arlene Gannon $100

For Mert & Prudy from their family $100

Adah & Herb Ginn $250

For the children Fletcher Brown $100

In memory of a Mother's love- GTW $100

In loving memory of Richard Chaplin from Dorothy Chaplin $100

Dianne & Gregg Goodrich $100

Clean-O-Rama Co Inc $200

In memory of Roger J. Gagnon ''Mr. Flag'' $100

Anonymous $120

In loving memory of George and Lee Marjorie D Twombly $350

In memory of loved ones Nancy and Jim Vanites $25

From the Martin family $25

Robin Tannenbaum $15

From the Whelan family $100

The DCS Team from UNUM $200

From Marissa, Andrew, Justice and Olivia who enjoy Christmas $20

In loving memory of Ben Clough from his family $500

In loving memory of Seamus Nee from the Cloughs $50

Mike & Nancy McNeil $100

To Bernard with love from his family $25

Robert Macomber & Cynthia Frye-Macomber $25

Joe & Stephanie Cormier $25

In memory of Ann and Joan Rocheleau $50

For my Christmas blessings-Nicole & Josh Williams and Tyler Gagnon G. Nadeau $25

In loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Pomerleau, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Nadeau, Scott and Steven $50

Anonymous $25

In memory of Byron Barbara Peters $25

In memory of loved ones Donald & Eleanor Hincks $25

In memory of Katie Dykes from Meghan & Nancy $25

The Reale-Hatem family $20

Christine Ladyszewski $50

Kevin Michael Parker $40

In memory of Stanley and Violet Oliver $25

In lieu of Christmas cards M & W Tool Service $25

In memory of Catherine A. Lorello and The Delaney family $25

Don & Sara Blinn $100

Today's Total $4,075.00

Total to Date $70,347.28

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