Some businesses in and around Portland are spicing up their annual holiday lunch parties this year, and it’s not too late to join in.

It’s called the Portland Potluck and it benefits thousands of Maine children who will receive gifts this holiday season because of donations to the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund.

Here’s how it works. A company agrees to host a festive holiday lunch and combine it with a charity fundraiser for the toy fund. Employees sign up to bring a dish: appetizers, soups, main dishes, side dishes and desserts. They invite their colleagues to share the feast and people make donations of their choosing for a plate of food.

In the end, the office gets into the holiday spirit, workers share their culinary skills and enjoy a tasty meal, the proceeds go to the toy fund and children who otherwise might have little to smile about get to share the joy of unwrapping gifts.

Portland Potluck began last year and raised more than $2,500 for the fund. Organizers are hoping to exceed that total this year.

The official date and time for the event is this Friday, Dec. 8, from noon until 2 p.m., although companies can choose a different date and time if that works better for them.

Participants post messages and photos on social media with the tag #portlandpotluck, and it becomes a big virtual office party happening simultaneously in employee cafeterias around Greater Portland. Participating businesses also will be recognized by the Press Herald.

Among the participants signed up so far are Gorham Savings Bank, Cross Insurance, Winxnet and SMRT Archiects and Engineers. Want to join in? For more information, call Chris Sobiech at 207-791-6611 or email [email protected]

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. Bruce Roberts was the original pen name of the newspaper columnist who co-founded the fund in 1949.

The fund – now in its 68th year – is accepting applications for toys from needy families in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Androscoggin and Knox counties.

Applications can be downloaded at pressheraldtoyfund.org or picked up at the Press Herald’s Welcome Center at 295 Gannett Drive in South Portland. Call 791-6672 to have one mailed to you.

Donations to help buy the toys can be made at pressheraldtoyfund.org 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.

For more information, go to: <URL destination=””>pressheraldtoyfund.org.

</URL>See more stories about the fund at pressherald.com/press-herald-toy-fund/.

TOY FUND DONATIONS

In memory of Joan Barrasso from Mark Barrasso ………. $50

Anonymous …………………… $50

Merry Christmas to all! Salvador Perez ………………. $50

Anonymous ………………….. $100

In memory of Joe & Lois Page …………………………………………..$50

Merry Christmas to family and friends. Love, Dick and Evie Tonneson …………….. $500

From Molly and Finn Snow ……………………………………………..$100

Merry Christmas! The Ramsey family ……… $100

In memory of Beverly Wallace …………………………………………$250

Bill and Valerie Sowles .. $250

The Wellness Connection of Maine ………………………. $500

Anonymous …………………… $30

Julie R. Blodgett ……………. $50

Anonymous …………………. $100

Merry Christmas! The Jamieson family …… $100

Carol & Robert Potter …… $50

In love & memory of my mom, Thelma Gould ……….$25

Donna J. Emery …………….. $20

Herbert Taylor ……………… $100

Flossie the Cat …………….. $100

Richard & Shirley McIntosh ……………………………………………….$25

Paul Collins …………………… $100

Pauline & Kenneth Curtis …………………………………………………$100

Nina & Ed Comiskey ……. $100

Nancy Greska ………………. $100

In memory of Lora A. Lemanski ……………………………………$50

Alumni 1954 Class of Westbrook High School ………. $120

In memory of Brooks. Love, Joyce & Kathy ……. $100

Total year to date: $30,314

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