December 19, 2010

Bruce Roberts Toy Fund: Struggling to pay for a better life, parents turn to the Toy Fund for help

Paying for housing and college courses leaves little money for new toys.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When it comes to needs and wants during the holiday season, parents have little choice but to focus on needs.

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.

For many families in southern Maine that means paying the mortgage or making the rent each month so they can live in a safe community and the children can have a normal, wholesome upbringing.

In these lean times, that can be a struggle that leaves little money for anything else.

"We purchased our home two years ago and since have been budgeting to the penny with no extras and are receiving help from family members each month to keep our home," writes a Sebago woman in her application letter to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund. Her husband has a full-time job but they cannot afford special treats – like Christmas presents – for their preschool-age daughter.

The Bruce Roberts Toy Fund can help, providing a holiday boost by brightening the Christmas season with gifts for youngsters who might not otherwise get them.

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.

Delinquencies and foreclosures climb during this time of year, even though state programs are in place to help, said Dale McCormick, director of the Maine State Housing Authority.

The people who are struggling heroically to avoid foreclosure or eviction are to be admired, she said.

A South Portland couple with a 7-year-old son writes that they took a financial risk, moving from a crime-infested neighborhood in Portland to a more suburban neighborhood, where they have a yard and their son can play outside.

The expenses are higher and coming up with the security deposit and paying to move have depleted what savings they had.

"I thought moving would be the best Christmas present for my family. I just hope it won't be the only one," writes the father.

A Lebanon mother of four writes that her husband lost his job this summer and she's trying to complete her bachelor's degree.

"This assistance would help my family so that instead of purchasing presents for my children I can focus on paying my mortgage and other essential bills," she says.

Home ownership is more than just a place to stay, McCormick said. It is the most important investment for a middle class family and Maine people have a history of doing what it takes to avoid losing their house.

It's important to support that effort, she said.

Even though housing ranks up there with food and clothing in terms of the most basic of needs, the pressure on parents to please their children can be intense.

"It's totally hard to resist that and say 'no,'" said McCormick, also a parent. "You want the best for your kids. You want to give them food and clothing and shelter and you want to have them feel secure, happy and connected."

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

LATEST DONATIONS

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

Previously acknowledged: $59,950.54

Merry Christmas to our kids -- South Portland Golf Boosters $1,500

Scarborough Lions Club $500

Barry and Patricia Unnold $400

Couleur Collection, November 26-28 Event $1,215.70

John R. and Helen M. Huard $1,000

The 10 Gorman Grandkids $1,000

Cumberland County Employees $731

Westbrook High School Spanish Club $500

The Iggy S. Schwartz family $300

Friends of Bruce Roberts, South Portland $685

In memory of Charlie "Santa" Kilbride -- Greg MacDowell, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 197 Westbrook $100

(Continued on page 2)

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