Portland Press Herald Toy Fund volunteers have been working for weeks sorting and packaging gifts for needy families.

But as with any enterprise gearing up to distribute shiny new toys for thousands of deserving boys and girls to unwrap on Christmas morning, the volunteers first needed a workshop.

The operation lost its former home when the vacant commercial space in downtown Freeport was leased to a year-round tenant. Fortunately for the volunteer “elves” – and especially for all the Maine children who will soon be unwrapping all those Christmas gifts – the 66-year-old toy fund found a new home in a vacant retail space a little more than a mile away.

WS Development, a Massachusetts-based developer with properties around the country, donated the space to the toy fund free of charge.

“It completes the circle when you work together,” said Ellen Fleshner of Yarmouth, the property manager and someone who also has supported the fund in the past.

It’s a big example of the kind of support from the business community that has helped keep the fund rolling since 1949.

The toy fund is using donations from readers to provide toys to about 7,000 Maine children who might otherwise not receive holiday gifts because of hardships faced by their parents.

The fund is accepting applications for toys from needy families in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties. Applications can be downloaded at pressheraldtoyfund.org or picked up at the Welcome Center desk on the fifth floor of One City Center in Portland. Call 791-6672 to have one mailed to you.

Donations to help buy the toys can be made on the website or by writing checks to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund and mailing them to the fund at P.O. Box 7310, Portland, ME 04112.

The campaign’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000.

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