For many children in Knox and Lincoln counties, Christmas arrives each year in a shiny blue 18-wheeler.

Northeast Transport, a Waldoboro-based company with a national fleet of carriers for hire, made its annual trip to the Press Herald Toy Fund’s warehouse last week and picked up hundreds of new toys for needy children in the midcoast. When the big rig left Freeport, the floor of the trailer was three-quarters filled with toys all packed individually for more than 140 families who had applied to the fund to help make sure their children didn’t go without gifts to unwrap on Dec. 25.

The toys will ultimately be distributed by about 10 social service agencies that work directly with the families but would otherwise have a hard time moving all those toys. Northeast has been making the toy run each year for more than 20 years, at no cost, simply because it can, said Jeff Payson, president and co-founder of the company.

“Why wouldn’t I help to provide toys to children on Christmas? Shouldn’t everybody?” Payson said. “I certainly don’t want to think of anyone with an empty tree, feeling forgotten.”

Payson said he’s gotten to know the agencies and seen how they help local families, so he is happy to provide the link between the toy fund and the midcoast. “It’s a good thing.”

The Portland Press Herald 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 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. The total raised so far is $25,106.

DONATIONS

In loving memory of David Poirier, Shirley and family $20

In loving memory of Bob Hamblen – Mary, Jim, Terry and Steve $50

Paul Loring $100

In loving memory of David S. Waite from Sally Richardson-Waite $50

From Punkin and Gramie $35

Anonymous $100

Robert Tweedie $100

David LaLiberte $100

Anonymous $100

Karl and Beth Jacobsen $250

In memory of Elizabeth Ross from Kevin and Judy $100

Charles Dodge $100

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth $100

Merry Christmas – John and Pam Fridlington $250

In loving memory of H. Paul Wagstaff $25

In honor of our five wonderful grandchildren $250

In honor of the Kesich family $50

Warm wishes for the holidays

$50

Today’s total: $1,780

Total year to date: $25,106

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