Please bring back the toy fund updates of list of donors and personal-interest stories!

Your readers used to be reminded of the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund by a series of articles during the weeks leading up to Christmas. I was dismayed when the paper decided to discontinue this practice. “Out of sight, out of mind,” I thought.

And now the article “Press Herald Toy Fund changes but goal is the same” (Nov. 25) reveals that last year, “the fund raised only slightly more than $100,000, less than half the typical amount” but goes on to say the drop in funding was due to confusion about where to send contributions.

Really, more than $100,000 worth of donations was lost due to “postal snafus”? Perhaps, instead, we miss the lists of contributors, the heartfelt stories from recipients and volunteers, and the ever-rising total.

$300,000 is a lofty goal for a fund that took in just over a third of that last year. But give us back the names of generous neighbors, the tales of joy and relief from local families and the climbing total in bold, and I bet together we will raise the money again.

Also, please pause a moment to think about how in this article you offer parents access to the application: the website. Not everyone has a computer, access to one or even the ability to read your paper or the application form.

It would be good to know other ways the toy fund staff is ensuring that potential recipients are being informed of the program so they may receive gifts for their children.

In years past, opening the paper and seeing the Portland Press Herald dedicate space to acknowledge, in print, someone’s gift of $10 and how that modest donation made a difference was a gift in and of itself.

Katie Clark


Collins should gain clarity on the need for health care

Sen. Susan Collins stated last month in a floor speech that she is “crystal clear” in her stance against the Affordable Care Act. It is important to remember that this politician is also against the disclosure of the way our government’s contractors contribute to campaigns.

Our current health care system is driven by profits and firmly tied to our jobs. It is a system based on threatened and limited choices, not a system of health and wellness.

I have met countless individuals who admit that their jobs are physically destroying them, but cannot quit because they are the sole provider of health care for their families. I have met a couple who divorced so that their children could be eligible for insurance.

I knew a man with terminal cancer who worked to the end of his life to cover treatments, rather than be with his family. I have met a girl whose neglected toothache led to an infection in her brain. All of us know someone whose life has been adversely affected by lack of health care. More than half of personal bankruptcies are medically based.

To question, to delay and to forbid health care to our citizens is immoral, dishonest and serves an industry that has spent more than $100 million fighting it.

Forty million of us have no health care without the Affordable Care Act. If Sen. Collins’ personal health care were that of a real citizen, if she believed that everyone deserves health care – not just the wealthy – I think her clarity would change.

River Payne


Keep marijuana use out of the car and off the road

As the citizens of Portland were preparing to make their decision about whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in their city, I was taking a midmorning drive across the Casco Bay Bridge into Portland with my 2-year-old son in the back seat.

Just as we approached the stoplight at the end of the bridge, I glanced in my rearview mirror. I saw a young woman in the car behind us with a bowl (pipe) in one hand and a lighter in the other, lighting her marijuana. Neither of her hands were on the wheel; neither of her eyes were on the road as her car continued to approach mine. I was irritated.

I don’t care that this young woman was smoking pot – for medicinal or recreation use. What irritates me is that this woman was clearly distracted and putting my safety and, most importantly, my son’s safety at risk to get high on her way to wherever she was going.

At the next light, she pulled up alongside our car, and I contemplated whether or not to roll my window down and politely ask her if it was absolutely necessary to do that now, while she is sharing the road with hundreds of others who have just as much a right as she does to arrive safely to their destination.

I didn’t have the opportunity. She was too distracted by lighting and taking another hit of her marijuana to notice me.

The citizens of Portland have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana. I implore those who choose to smoke to use common sense. Smoke before you leave or after you arrive at your destination. Getting high is not worth risking the safety of others.

Rebecca Diggins

South Portland

Even family-friendly dogs should be leashed in public

Recently the town of Scarborough has been blanketed with “Vote No” signs and with people holding signs hoping drivers will honk if they want to repeal the current ordinance requiring dogs to be on leash. However, there are probably some people who would like to voice an opposing view, but are fearful of being looked upon as anti-dog.

While this issue was initially plover-related (and rightly so), other factors come into play, such as the ability for everyone to enjoy public spaces without concern. No matter how family-friendly a dog is, dogs can be unpredictable, and therefore should be leashed in public.

Most off-leash dogs are not under voice control and will wander away to do their business without supervision, or instinctively head for other people or animals (including plovers). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite almost 4.5 million Americans each year – many of them children.

My guess is that most people would like to enjoy Scarborough’s public spaces without concern for wandering dogs and what they might do. Please vote “yes” Tuesday and help protect our public spaces.

Sharman Kivatisky