The 4-year-olds are happy, and Kathleen Meade is breathing a little easier.

Meade is executive director of the Press Herald Toy Fund. Back in the spring, she ordered toys for more than 3,500 boys and girls of all ages, ranging from 1-year-olds to 18-year-olds.

She basically had to guess how many parents of 8-year-old girls and 6-year-old boys would ask for help at the holidays because they could not afford to buy gifts for their children. Her goal was to provide each child with three or four safe, engaging and age-appropriate toys.

Meade used to try to predict which age groups would generate the most demand the next winter based on her experience the year before. If there’s a run on toys for 7-year-old girls one year, chances are there would be a lot of demand for 8-year-old girls the next year, she figured. Alas, she said, “that never worked.”

In recent years, Meade has instead built in some flexibility, ordering some toys that could please more than one age group. It hasn’t always worked and, occasionally, there would be a late toy order and delivery to fill the gaps.

This year, there was a bit of a run on toys for 3- and 4-year-old boys and for 4-year-old girls. Meade has no idea why and couldn’t have seen it coming. But, the plan worked. The toy fund warehouse never ran out and every child was served.

“We flexed,” Meade said.

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. Founded in 1949, 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 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, call 791-6672 or go to: pressheraldtoyfund.org.

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

TODAY’S DONATIONS

In memory of Bruce Roberts from Unity Lodge #3 IOOF $500

Michael and Dona Boissonneault $100

In memory of Cynthia Lawhorn Oja – the love goes on. $75

Rick and Linda Robichaud $100

Anonymous $100

Year to date: $101,565.40