December 20, 2010

Bruce Roberts Toy Fund: Parents put future ahead of presents

Some spend their spare money on education or job training, leaving nothing for kids' gifts.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Sometimes being a parent means making the long-term goals a priority over the short-term ones.

HOW TO DONATE

GIFT PACKS: The Bruce Roberts Toy Fund uses donations from readers of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram to buy gifts for children in need, then distributes the gifts. The fund serves Cumberland, York, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Knox counties. Gift packs, for children 18 and younger, contain items appropriate to each child’s age and gender.

CONTRIBUTIONS: Send donations to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund, P.O. Box 7310, Portland, ME 04112. Checks should be made out to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund. Contributions are also accepted at the newspaper’s offices on the fifth floor at One City Center in Portland and online. Donations of securities are also accepted.

DONORS: Names of donors will be published in the Press Herald/Telegram and listed on www.pressherald.com.

That is the case for a number of parents seeking help from the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund this year.

These parents are spending their spare money on education or job training in order to give their families a better life in the future. But meanwhile they have nothing left to buy Christmas gifts with for their children this year.

One woman is seeking help from the toy fund for the first time this year, following a divorce after 17 years as a stay-at-home mother.

"I was facing a nonexistent job market, with no work history and few marketable skills," wrote the mother of three.

She is now enrolled in college full time, working on a bachelor's degree in English with the goal of becoming a technical writer.

"My oldest daughter is applying to colleges now and my younger two are also thinking of what they would like to get out of college. Before they wanted to be farmers or wood cutters. I am happy they are setting their sights higher, I think, because of my example," wrote the mother.

Welfare and her children's child support is her only source of income at the moment. She said while her ex-husband will most likely give her children presents, she will not be able to afford to do so herself, without help from the toy fund.

"I would like to be able to have something for them under our tree at home as well. I would like them to see that divorce and welfare are not the end of the world," she wrote.

Luckily for the student-parent, help is available from the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund, which uses donations from readers of The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram to buy gift packs for children 18 and younger in Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and York counties. The gifts are designed to be gender and age appropriate.

Last year, donors contributed a record $260,000 to the fund.

A single father of two is seeking help from the fund after moving his family from Biddeford to Rockland in the hopes of getting a fresh start, after losing his job 18 months ago. Although he is still unemployed, his said life is looking up finally. He is receiving help through a job retraining program, working with metal.

"Needless to say, things have been better and days have been brighter, but we have love and optimism for the future," wrote the father.

Another mother had to close her 15-year-old day care business this year after so many families dropped out because they lost their jobs. Now she and her husband are finishing up their bachelor's degrees through the University of Maine and are due to graduate this spring. But until then they are getting along on her income from a part-time job and have no money to spare for gifts for their two daughters.

"The hardest part is the fact that we are also losing our home sometime in the future. Everything we know will not be any more," she wrote. 

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

LATEST DONATIONS

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

Previously acknowledged: $76,022.06

Matt and Will $250

Merry Christmas! Tom, Beth, Bobby and Tyler Pratt $35

James and Pauline Salter $50

In loving memory of our parents, Carl and Millie Maksut $50

In loving memory of our parents, Joseph and Jacqueline Gagne $50

For the children from Gigi $25

Evan and Noah Harmon from Florida $25

Patricia M. and John R. Chesebro $35

CQ Associates $250

Anonymous $1,000

ECB and GRB $100

In memory of Alma P. Phillips $25

In memory of Uncle Carl $25

Albert Nelson $25

Paul and Stephanie Castle $50

Hannah and Griffin $50

For the children, in memory of my husband Ron -- V. Martin $25

In memory of Keara and Conner Quint $20

Bruce and Marion Hopkins $100

Steven M. Langerman $15

In memory of Stanley and Violet Oliver $50

Margaret Shively, John Williamson and Sandra Williamson $60

Richard F. Foss $100

Happy Faces -- Donna Lee $50

Thank you so much for what you do $30

Delores, Linda and Ann $50

In memory of Barbara Bolster, who loved Christmas $100

In Jesus' name $25

Sanity Klause $100

Alan W. Sampson $50

In lieu of Xmas cards -- Robert and Ann Carson $100

Richard and Joan Brooks $300

In memory of Bill and Alice Amero $70

Today's total: $3,290

Total to date: $79,312.06

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