A family of four in southern Maine never expected to need help this Christmas.

But one twist of fate during the summer changed their lives and began a chain of events that led a proud mother to swallow her pride and turn to the Press Herald Toy Fund.

“My family suffered complete material loss when we had a house fire in May. We had no insurance and neither did our landlord,” the mother of two wrote in a note with her application for help.

The family and pets all survived unharmed, and community members and support agencies stepped up to help, she wrote. “We did receive many household donations, as well as some gift cards and other donations, which were spent on necessities and back bills,” she wrote.

While grateful for their health and the support they received, the fire was just the beginning of their financial struggle. Expenses that would have been manageable before the fire instead pushed the family deeper into a hole it can’t climb out of.

“My husband lost work, too, as a result of the fire. (He) works as much as he can and we live week-to-week,” she said. “Our rent is $250 more a month than we used to pay.”


Most recently, car problems have added to the bills they are struggling to pay, she wrote. Now, when the family can most use some holiday cheer, gifts for the children are out of reach.

“Any help is greatly appreciated,” she wrote.

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/.


Celia Wakefield $40

In honor of Oliver. May all the babies have a very Merry Christmas. $50

Merry Christmas from the Wolfs. Rick & Janet Wolf $50

Larry Pixley & Robin Ratcliffe .. $150


Happy Holidays to the children of Maine! $250

Santa Bob $50

Anonymous $100

Astrid Shannon $20

For Nana, the best person I have ever known. I am so blessed you were in my life. Grateful grandson. $200

In thanks for the birth of our grandson, Jake Kelley. Gee & David $100


In memory of David Edward and David Richard Farnham $25

In memory of Thomas and Brett Cooper $25

In memory of Jay and MacDaddy $50

Anonymous $50

Merry Christmas! Marybeth & John Richardson $100

Peter & Kristen Lemay $25


Merry Christmas to everyone in Maine, especially the children!  $50

Lauren & Caroline Hester $50

Bruce Kidman $200

In memory of Gramps, Tom, Dickie, Ben, Seamus and Coleman. Love, Gram & family $100

Carol & Jack Flynn $50

We miss you, Grammy! Love, Cathy, Chuck, & Tori $25


Kathleen & Kenneth Pierce $150

Anonymous $100

Alice Rohman $40

In memory of our parents: Lena & Warren Herbert, Irene & Henry Ducharme, from Judy & Gerry  $30

Skyrocket $50

Anonymous $50


Jack & Susan Bremer $200

In memory of Susan Phillips, who loved children $100

Merry Christmas! The Stowell family $100

Total for year   $47,879

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