Many families who turn to the Press Herald Toy Fund write about how a difficult year left them dreading the holidays until they learned about the charity and how it brings joy to children who otherwise might go without.

But for other families, the struggle can last through multiple holiday seasons. And, as a grandmother from southern Maine writes, it helps to know the fund is there, year after year.

“I still am the sole legal guardian of my three grandchildren,” the woman wrote in a note with her application for help. “My financial situation has not changed for the better in any way. The only thing that has changed is my rent went up by $200 – which is making it even harder to pay everything. The three boys are still very happy and excited each year for Christmas. … Thanks mainly to your organization, my grandsons always have happy Christmases. You have helped them enjoy Christmas for the past three years.

“It is so hard to admit at times that I need help every year, but I appreciate what you do more than I can say.

“Thanks again.”

THE PRESS HERALD TOY FUND in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts uses 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. Now in its 69th year, the fund is accepting applications for toys from needy families in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, Lincoln 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 or 791-6600 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: pressheraldtoyfund.org.

SEE MORE STORIES about the fund at pressherald.com/press-herald-toy-fund/.

TODAY’S DONATIONS

Merry Christmas! In lieu of local Christmas cards! Carl & Rachael Akin $30

Lynne Russell-Johnson $35

Wayne Duffett $100

Anonymous $30

Merry Christmas from the Jamieson family! $100

In memory of Sandra, from Bill and Mary Plouffe $100

Anonymous $100

Merry Christmas to family and friends! Dick and Evie Tonneson $500

In memory of Barry Glew. You will be missed this Christmas and forever. $150

Thom and Judy Meschinelli $30

Total for the year: $37,161