It wouldn’t be a Maine Christmas without frosty air and at least the chance of snow.

But for many Maine families, it also can be a case of cruel timing.

Heating season in Maine is when many families struggle most with which bills to pay and which to put off. It also is a time of anticipation and high expectations for children.

A disabled father from the midcoast wrote to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund asking for help and humbly describing the difficult choice facing some Maine families: keep the kids warm or buy them toys for Christmas.

“In the winter months it’s really hard because we rent an old house that is hard to heat because of lack of insulation. It costs roughly $4,000 to heat (for the winter), so staying warm is more important than material things,” he wrote.

The lack of material things won’t stop the man and his wife from providing a Christmas for their 4-year-old daughter, he wrote. They have a house and they will be warm.

“So if there are kids of families that need your help more, we understand. Thank you very much.”

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 – now in its 66th year – is accepting applications for toys from needy families in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties. Applications can be downloaded at pressheraldtoyfund.org, picked up at the Welcome Center on the fifth floor of One City Center in Portland, or mailed to you by calling 791-6672.

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. The total raised so far is $3,475.

Donations

Merry Christmas … $25

James Puiia … $60

Dawn Gauvin … $225

Christine and Willie Johnson … $250

Richard Hubbell … $50

Mackenzie Pizzo … $2,000

Veterans of Foreign Wars, Men’s Auxiliary, Post 6859 … $100

Bolduc Eye Care Jean Day Fund … $100

Women of the Moose Portland Chapter 1971 … $75

In memory of Joe O’Brien … $50

In memory of Joe O’Brien … $100

Anonymous … $100

In memory of Norma and Robert Foster … $100

I want to give back and help a family in need … $30

Merry Christmas! from the Bopp family … $100

Sam, Dylan, Dominique, Danielle, Sean … $100

Christina Olofsson … $10

Total year-to-date … $3,475

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