Volunteers have been vital to the success of the Press Herald Toy Fund from the beginning 70 years ago.

This year, they outdid themselves.

Because a tight real estate market prolonged the annual search for free warehouse space, organizers of the fund were a couple weeks behind schedule when they finally moved into a vacant Freeport building late in November. And that delay meant two trailers filled with toys didn’t arrive until last Wednesday, one day before nonprofit agencies were scheduled to pick up toys to distribute to struggling families in other parts of the state and two days before individual parents were scheduled to begin arriving at the warehouse to pick up bags of toys for their children.

All of which means the 100 or so people who volunteer their time to help the charity each year had days to do what normally takes weeks.

So, while the fund would usually have eight or 10 volunteers working each day unpacking and sorting toys according to age and gender, then filling bags with toys based on the information about each family, Toy Fund Director Kathleen Meade called for reinforcements.

On Wednesday through Friday, 25 to 30 volunteers worked each shift, breaking down the deliveries, sorting and repacking. And, right on schedule, the first toys were carried away Thursday and parents began picking up toys for their children on Friday.

“The volunteers pulled it off,” Meade said. “They were amazing.”

The toy fund warehouse is still a busy place and it’ll stay that way for a few more weeks. By then, Meade expects volunteers will have sorted, packed and handed out toys for more than 4,000 Maine children who, because they pulled it off, will have reasons to smile on Christmas morning.

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 70th 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 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.

TODAY’S DONATIONS

Marcia Campbell & Deborah Evans  $50
Sean & Lindsay Ryan  $1,000
Mimi & Chuck  $1.00
In loving memory of the Moxceys, Carole, Kim, & Stephanie  $75
On behalf of Nicholas & Luca  $20
In memory of Andrea & John  $50
In memory of Lynne & Paul  $100
Dennis Sayward  $75
The Ardito Family  $100
In memory of the deceased members of the Brook & Dugar families  $600
Richard & Elizabeth Valliere  $50
The Courthoys  $50
Anonymous  $100
In memory of Rosie  $50
Richard & Shirley McIntosh  $20
Darryl Arsenault  $20
In loving memory of Ben Clough  $100
In memory of Norma &Phil MacDonald  $100
In memory of Ginny Dorr  $100
Anonymous  $50
All the families deserve to be happy on Christmas. Lynn Kenneally  $20
Laura Barger  $50
Friends of Bow Street Market from Ronnie Small  $225
Jeff & Meg Marks  $30
Phil & Henty LaRou  $200
Miki & Don Murray  $100
Martha & Neil  $30
In memory of Harry Burnham & Rita Baltas of Limerick who enjoyed the Christmas season! Ted Baltas Jr.
Happy holidays! Celia, Owen, Finn, Molly, Easton, Clara and Gavin  $200
Karen & Chuck Strandberg  $100

Year to date: $61,333.50

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