December 24, 2010

Bruce Roberts Toy Fund: The essence of charity? 'Anonymous'

They receive no recognition or public thanks – but their gifts are very much appreciated.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

Kathleen Meade appreciates every donation that comes in. She is grateful for every dime, every dollar.


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

And it warms her especially when donations to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund arrive in envelopes with no writing, no note. Just envelopes with cash inside. Sometimes it's a few bucks. Sometimes it's a $5 or $10 bill, or something bigger.

These good souls don't seek recognition. Their donations aren't part of a corporate marketing strategy, aimed to promote a company's good standing in the community. Those corporate donations are great, of course, and Meade is doing all she can to encourage more of them. But the anonymous gifts represent pure kindness.

"It really fits with the spirit of the whole program," said Meade, who directs the fund that helps provide families with gifts they otherwise could not afford. "It fits with the spirit of Christmas. Santa was secret. When I was a little girl, we had nine kids. We would go to the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and come home and the tree was up and there were gifts underneath it. How did it happen? It was magical."

For all of its 61 years, the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund has been predicated on anonymity. People in our community who need help with Christmas gifts for their kids apply to the fund. Those applications are strictly anonymous, at every stage of the evaluation process and when gifts are distributed.

There is no expectation of anonymity when donations arrive to help fund the toy drive. Increasingly, though, Meade has noticed anonymous gifts. These are folks who just want to help, and who aren't concerned with who knows or whether their generosity will be recognized.

Like the person who handed Meade a $20 bill on her way into work. "Here, this goes to Bruce Roberts," he said, stuffing the folded bill in Meade's hand.

Meade and her team of volunteers know some of them well, and enjoy friendly banter when they stop by the office or call to make sure their gifts have arrived. They are children with piggybanks of coins, businessmen with checks, and friends and family members of loved ones offering crisp bills.

Their identities aren't secret; they just wish to remain anonymous. Other times, the gifts come from truly unknown sources.

For many years now, a mysterious donor has left an envelope with five $100 bills, Meade said. "To this date, nobody knows his name. He just leaves the envelope and walks away," she said.

Their names show up in the newspaper each morning, and they read like this:

Anonymous $25

Anonymous $100

Thank goodness for each and every one. 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:


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

Previously acknowledged: $91,172.06

In lieu of Xmas cards -- Muriel C. Blanchard $25

John and Diane McFadden $100

In memory of Paul Sferes from his wife $300

In memory of Stanley and Violet Oliver and Ethel Blair $35

In loving memory of Bill and Connie Murphy $50

Keep up the good work -- Westbrook Warren Women's Fellowship $25

In memory of Ella and Bick $25

In memory of Carolyn and George Irwin -- Kathleen & John Murphy $20

Roger and Lydia Percival, Naples, Fla. $25

Lawrence E. McDonald and Shelby L. Noyes $100

In memory of our goddaughter, Kristen Linscott -- Kent and Wanda Pelkey $100

In memory of Mary and Donald Smith $50

Patricia and James Earley $25

Curtis and Janet Jodrie $100

Anonymous $100

In memory of Anne Sutton Coletti $50

In memory of my friend Mary Lannon $100

Joe and Bridget $150

In loving memory of George and Rosealine Clark -- Tammy, Greg and Robbie $50

In loving memory of Keith and Betty Luther -- Tammy, Greg & Robbie $50

In memory of our grandsons, Benjamin Clough & Seamus Nee $50

Merry Christmas -- Mike and Bea Dalton and Tom and Mary Alice Dalton $50

Tom and Paula Hogan $200

Linda Jordan $25

Gwen M. Page $10

In loving memory of Angela Marie Cyr. Happy Birthday baby girl. In our hearts forever -- your family $25

Jeffrey Dziadosz and Carolyn Brownhill $20

In memory of my mom, who loved Xmas -- Margie $25

Malcolm & Carmen Weatherbie $100

In honor and love for Alanna, Jordan, Maria, Sam, Noah, Ethan, Lara, Dara, Finnegan and James. Happy Christmas -- Gramma & Grampa $200

Great-grandsons Jacob, Jack, Miles and Granddaughter Emeline $100

In honor of Jordan, who has everything, especially our love -- Phyllis and Bill Boyle $250

In memory of Bob Pickett -- William and Dorothy Scott $100

In loving memory of our parents, Rey and Connie Tibbetts and John E. Cronin $100

In honor and memory of our loved ones. Merry Christmas! -- Dan and Lisa Randall $200

Dick and Jill Gorham $100

Best Wishes from Drumlin Environmental LLC $150

In memory of my mother -- Pauline A. Grant $250

Today's total: $3,435

Total to date: $94,607.06


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