It’s getting to be crunch time at the Portland Press Herald Toy Fund, and Linda Paul and her fellow volunteers are stepping it up.

Paul, a retired kindergarten teacher who lives in Scarborough, volunteers one day a week each holiday season, but is doing double time this week before Christmas.

“The toys are packed up and ready to go, and the parents are coming in and picking up the gifts for their kids,” Paul said Tuesday.

Parents who could not afford to buy anything leave with four or five gifts for each child. Paul has been volunteering with the fund for 15 years, and said there plenty of families who ask for – and very much appreciate – the help.

“There’s a lot of need out there and this group, (the toy fund), provides help for a lot of parents who are really stretched,” Paul said. “One lady came in and said she didn’t have a tree to put the toys under. … I keep thinking I hope she got something.”

Keeping the donations flowing into the fund year after year to buy all those gifts is also a big undertaking, and it also is crunch time on the fundraising side.

Donations this year appear to be running significantly behind last year, when the fund had received more than $100,000 in donations by the 20th of December. This year, the total so far is $76,124. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time for donors to help the fund and make sure no child goes without gifts at the holidays.

“It’s a very generous group,” said Paul. “It’s a special time of year and it’s nice to help.”

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 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 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 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.



In memory of Vietnam Veteran Barry M Campbell 1947-1995  $100

In memory of Mildred McLaughlin from her sister   $100

Sevee and Maher Engineers $650

In memory of Martha’s love GTW $125

In memory of “the Creeper” $15

In memory of our parents $75

In memory of Jack Deering $100

In loving memory of George and Lee $1,000

Cynthia Byrkit $25

Jane Danielson $100

From Santa’s Elves $30

Benjamin Soule $50

James and Susan McMahon ..$100

In memory of Diana $25

In memory of Brendan Keating $50

In memory of members of the Conant, Reed, and McAloney families $50

In memory of Nathan Eloian, from David and Mark $100

Anonymous $25

In memory of my forever friend, Gaye Matthews. Love, Barbara $50

In memory of Art Smith $100

In memory of EBA $200

From Griffin and Casey $100

In memory of Phillip LaRou Sr and Henrietta LaRou $25

Merry Christmas! Rusty and Sally Bennett $100

Allison and Anton Lahnston…. $50

Merry Christmas! McCormick and Bouchard Eyecare $150

Employees of Wyman Station $400

Kathleen and Stanley Allain $300

Lawrence and Karan Miller ….$100

Year to date: $76,124

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