Joseph Chaisson was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He also was a loyal supporter of the Press Herald Toy Fund.

Ruth Hamm was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a passionate beano player who never passed up a burger at Harmon’s. And she, too, was a longtime donor to the fund.

Both left behind family members who have carried on their legacies, sending checks each year to the fund in their memory.

“He’s the one that always gave every year, from when it first started,” said Nola Chaisson, who is now 85 and has sent a check in her husband’s memory for the past 13 years. “I do what I can.”

After his career in the Marine Corps, Joseph Chaisson worked at S.D. Warren and was active in his Catholic parish and the Knights of Columbus, which is how he first became a big booster of the 69-year-old charity called the Press Herald Toy Fund in the Spirit of Bruce Roberts. “I hope it keeps going for many more years,” Nola Chaisson said.

Hamm died in 2014. She was 83 years old, a longtime Portland resident, a collector of ceramic angels and a fan of Judge Judy and Dr. Phil, her family wrote in her obituary.


Hamm’s daughter, Mary Turner, has kept up her annual donations to the fund.

Her latest $100 check arrived in recent days with a hand-printed note. “In memory of my mom, Ruth Hamm, who donated every year. Miss her so much.”

It’s the kind of note that folks at the toy fund see more and more, as donations arrive in memory of loved ones who, just like Joseph Chaisson and Ruth Hamm, began family traditions that outlived them.

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 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 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.



SEE MORE STORIES about the fund at


In memory of Henty & Phil LaRou, who made Christmas a special time for family. From the LaRou kids & grandkids  $500

Doris & Ted Cook  $100

In memory of Sheila and Don Esty  $50


In loving memory of our dad, Joe Nelson, from Tara, Kim and Laura  $100

Thank you  $20

Betsy Webster  $25

Leslie Webster  $25

Anonymous $100

Thomas & Catharine Masterson  $100


In memory of Phil, Connie, June and Heather, from David & Carol Boston  $200

Wesley Lovejoy  $250

Diane & Carl Walp  $50

Richard & Nancy Lemieux  $200

Christmas memories fill the air. Joann & Guy Rowe, we love and miss you. – Lisa, Lindy, Miranda and Carley  $50

In memory of Milo Gay Cummings III  $50


For kids from grandkids, Keili Curtis  $25

For kids from grandkids, Eliza Wright  $25

For kids from grandkids, Nicholas Ham  $25

In memory of Samuel Maier  $100

Gift on behalf of all Gorham Savings Bank associates from Gorham Savings Bank. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season  $500

Ala Reid & William Reid Jtros  $100


Judy Benoit  $100

Jane Danielson  $100

Jean Campbell  $250

In memory of Lynne and Paul, from Rick and Debby Molander  $100

Merry Christmas to the kids, from Cheryl and Ray  $35

In memory of Matt, Mark & Faye Ware  $50

Merry Christmas from Barbara & Gregory LePage  $50

Total for year  $51,159

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