The anticipation has been building for weeks in the southern Maine home of a precocious 5-year-old girl and her mother.

The youngster brought home ornaments she made in kindergarten and they hung them on their Christmas tree, the tip of an evergreen that her mother’s boyfriend cut for them.

“She’s super excited,” her mother said when contacted by phone last week. “She talks all the time.”

She also said her daughter understands what is most important about Christmas. “I tell her it’s about giving more than receiving. … She is super nice and caring. Family is her number one thing.”

The girl’s mother said she has no desire to get caught up in the commercialization of the holidays or to overwhelm her daughter with new toys or clothes. But the little girl is growing up so fast, and the mom does want her daughter to experience the joy of finding gifts under the tree.

So she sent a request for help to the Press Herald Toy Fund.

“She is my only child and I am so lucky to have her,” she wrote. “Her whole life it has just been the two of us and we receive no help from her father.”

The girl’s mother had to give up her job in a department store when her daughter started kindergarten in the fall, she said. She has since begun a new job with better pay and hours that don’t conflict with the school schedule. But she hasn’t yet caught up with the bills from the period in between, including one bill for new brakes and a battery for her car.

“This is the first time I have ever needed assistance with buying anything,” she wrote.

It was a big relief when a neighbor told her about the toy fund, she said. And it was an even bigger relief last week she went to the warehouse and picked up a bag of gifts while her daughter was at school.

They’ll be waiting under the tree Christmas morning, ready to be unwrapped.

“(She) will appreciate everything she gets,” her mother said. “She knows there are other people a lot less fortunate than she is.”

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.

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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, call 791-6672 or go to:

SEE MORE STORIES about the fund at


Merry Christmas from Anonymous $5,000

In memory of Lydia Therrien $500

Maine Today Employees Fundraiser Pot Luck $952

For the children, from Jack $60

Cyrus Hagge $500

In memory of Joe Guertin, who loved toys $50

In memory of Bill and Barbara Caswell $25

In memory of my wonderful wife, Joyce! Love, E. Wendell Freeman $200

Chebeague Island Fire Department $245

Anonymous $100

Anonymous $10

Anonymous $25

James J. MacAdam Family Fund $500

Anonymous $100

In memory of George Stewart Jr. $50

In memory of Paul & Ann Chandler $50

Acadia, Zachary & Gannon Stewart $50

Paul M. Collins $100

Gift from Margaret Philbrick and Gerald Sacks $40

Anonymous $250

Merry Christmas! The Hudson Family $200

John & Lynne Johnston $100

Gift from Aggie, Gus and Millie White $75

In loving memory of Susan Cote $20

For the kids – Lee $100

Nancy Weber $20

Feliz Navidad from Queso the Wonder Dog $25

In honor of the birth of Vivia and children everywhere. From Barbara Berger $100

Barry Atwood $100

Merry Christmas on behalf of our grandchildren Declan and Logan $250

Anonymous $100

In honor of Barbara Schirmer $25

In memory of Dana. We love him still and always will. Donald E. Johnson $50

In memory of LAN G $100

Year to date: $91,926

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