The mother of three young children had a simple wish for the holidays, one that all parents share at this time of year.

And she didn’t think it would come true.

“I have three wonderful children. We are currently struggling to find a home of our own, trying to save so we can afford the rent prices in this area. We are living with my fiance’s family. I am seeking help because our income only covers our needs, not our wants,” she wrote in a note to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund earlier this month.

“All I want for Christmas is for my children to be happy.”

One evening last week, she went to an appointment in Falmouth, where Toy Fund volunteers cheerfully handed her a large bag filled with new dolls and other playthings that were sure to bring smiles to the faces of her children, ages 8, 6 and 3. Afterward, she said she knew that her one wish would come true on Christmas morning.

“It really is such a relief.”

That same Christmas wish came true in homes around southern and coastal Maine on Sunday because of the generosity of strangers who simply wanted to make sure every child had presents to unwrap at the holidays.

The donors ranged from schoolchildren collecting pennies to local businesses writing big checks, and lots of people in between.

Like the 50 women who make up the Thursday morning golf league at Riverside Golf Course in Portland.

The golfers hold an annual holiday party each December. About five years ago, Shirley Penrod of Portland suggested that the women stop swapping gifts and instead pitch in and send a donation to the Toy Fund. The group’s $660 donation made quite a few children happy.

“It’s a lot more fun and rewarding to open our checkbooks than to open gifts,” said Pat Grossman of Kennebunk, one of the regular golfers.

The Portland Press Herald Toy Fund in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts is using donations from readers to provide toys to thousands of Maine children who might otherwise not receive holiday gifts because of hardships faced by their parents. The fund – now in its 67th year – serves needy families in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln and Knox counties.

Donations to help buy the toys are accepted year-round and 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.


Staff of the Coastal Journal is pleased to support the Press Herald Toy Fund in the spirit of Bruce Roberts $150

In memory of Papa Bear $50

Tender Years PreK class – Charlotte, Leo, Thomas, Dawson, Paxton, Everett, Jayda, Beau, Kip, Isaac, Emmett, Lola, Zachary, Makayla, Brydon, Gracelyn $120

For Jane and Don $40

In memory of our son, Jonathan Michael Sawyer $150

In memory of the Conant, Reed and McAloney families – Dorothy & Ed McAloney $50

In memory of Dad and Samson $50

Merry Christmas from Lexxi & Pennie in memory of Paws $500

AAA Energy Service $1,230

H.W. Longfellow AHEPA $400

In memory of our grandsons, Ben Clough & Seamus Nee from Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Nee $50

Happy Holidays to all – Riverside Ladies Thursday League Golfers $660

Anonymous $25

Joann & Guy Rowe – thank you for all our wonderful memories, with love Lisa, Lindy, Miranda & Carley $50

For the children – Lydia & Roger Percival, Cape Elizabeth & Florida $25

Peter L. Murray $100

In memory of Nana, Papa and Grampa – The Slipp Family $100

Tom and Diana Allen $200

Eva Joyce $100

Isabella Joyce $100

Merry Christmas! $100

Anonymous $20

The Castoldis $100

In memory of Candice McGill, who loved Christmas, from Bill Penney $50

Anonymous $50

In memory of Bernard & Bertha Garland from their girls $100

Brenda Houdlette $25

Jenifer Stewart $100

Lawrence Miller $100

In loving memory of Auntie June $200

In loving memory of James Robert Thornton, who loved children $100

To kindness to all $50

Bob Howe and Kathy Coleman $50

The Maine Golf Superintendents Association $180

Red Claws 50/50 Proceeds $275

In memory of Tom Cook, with love from his family $25

In memory of Nana and Grampy $100

Francis Maderia $50

In lieu of cards from the Robos $50

In memory of Lydia Therrien $500

From the Gorham Superintendent’s Office $130

In lieu of gifts for our doctors. The Casco Bay Eyecare Scarborough Team $35

In memory of our daughter, Lerin Jane Foley – Robert and Maryann Foley $100

Enjoy your Maine winter! $50

As a child I lived in a housing project and used to watch for Santa’s sleigh across vacant lots from my bedroom window. I was certain he wouldn’t forget us! $10

In memory of Carl, Carlton, Nick and Gilda Lewis from the Lewis family $50

From the East End Holiday Stroll and Circa Home $20

Brushstrokes with Impact Paint-a-thon $173

Merry Christmas! From Tomcat and Jerry $100

In memory of my daughter, Krista E. Wing, 12/17/16 $55

In loving memory of Harold & Theo Moxcey $50

Kenneth Moran $100

Maurine Pompeo $35

The Body Architect $50

In memory of Arch, Eleanor, Ralph and Esther from Bud & Ginny $100

In memory of Pastor Nancy $25

With love of my grandkids – E, K & N $25

Merry Christmas from Skillin Elementary School, South Portland $200

Marcia Chute $25

In memory of Virginia Wentworth $200

In loving memory of Kathy, Mom & Dad from Michael Nelson $50

For all the “Susan” elves from JoJo $50

Maine Today Media Portland Pot Luck $727

Broadreach Public Relations Portland Potluck $300

Cross Insurance Portland Potluck $900

Toy Fund Book and Candy Sale $556.10

Portland Longshoremen’s Benevolent Society ILA Local 861 $250

This gift is made in the name of Gordon & Judith Oliver $25

In memory of Dan Hurst $20

Merry Christmas! $250

Total to date: $132,093.70

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