December 5, 2011

Bruce Roberts Toy Fund: Volunteers rekindle magic of holidays

Some 200 holiday helpers are hard at work preparing gifts.

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The elves at the Bruce Roberts warehouse in Freeport are hard at work today sorting, packing and distributing gifts to families in need this holiday season.

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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 at www.pressherald.com/special/bruce_roberts_toy _fund.html. Donations of securities are also accepted.

DONORS: Names of donors will be published in the Press Herald/Telegram and listed online.

For Margie Emmons of Yarmouth, it's what Christmas is all about.

"It's the magic and wonder of the season," said Emmons, who got involved with the toy fund almost 10 years ago. "If this helps put a smile on a little kid's face on Christmas morning, there's nothing better."

Emmons is one of 200 or so volunteers for the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund who work each year to keep the magic of Christmas alive.

Since 1949, the toy fund has helped families that are struggling to buy gifts for their children during the holidays. Readers of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and MaineToday Media websites donate to the fund, which uses the money to buy gifts for kids.

Emmons, a former kindergarten teacher who works for Visiting Angels, a caregiving agency in Portland, says she is familiar with the challenges that kids face at home. She says she volunteers to help make a difference in their lives.

"I feel like children deserve the joy that (comes with) the holidays," she said. "It makes me feel wonderful that I am helping, through Bruce Roberts, to enable a family to have some joy on Christmas day."

Jon Hebert of Westbrook volunteers for the same reason. He says he was fortunate to provide many gifts for his four children at Christmas.

"I always enjoyed Christmas so much as a child and as a parent," Hebert said. "I can't imagine a parent not being able to afford to buy gifts for their children. This helps the parents, too. This makes me feel good."

This year, the fund will serve an estimated 7,500 kids of all ages in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties. Volunteers have been working from their new warehouse space in Freeport since late October to process applications, open boxes, sort the gifts by age and gender, and pack them to distribute to families.

Kathleen Meade, the fund's director and head elf, said the volunteers are key to making the toy fund a success each year.

"They are totally integral to the operation," she said. "They come back year after year to do this for the kids. It's all about the kids."

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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