The relief and joy that the Press Herald Toy Fund brings to struggling Maine families can be addictive.

Ask Janice and Chad Bancroft.

Janice has been a supporter of the fund since she was a little girl growing up in Portland in the 1950s and 60s. Her mother had a connection to one of the people who founded the charity 70 years ago and her family made donations to the cause every year. Thirty one years ago, around the time her son Chad was born, Janice became a regular volunteer, joining about 100 people who donate their time each year to sort, package and distribute the toys.

Chad had to wait until he was 18, but has been volunteering with his mother for the last 13 years.

Volunteering was a bit more exciting this year because a delay in toy shipments meant sorting and packing had to happen in days instead of weeks. The Bancrofts jumped in along with dozens of others who worked extra shifts.

“It was very busy,” Janice said. “I’ve never seen that many people working on the toys at one time. But everybody knew what their job was and it worked.”

It’s hard not to come back once you have met the parents who come to the toy fund warehouse to pick up bags filled with gifts and realize their children won’t be left out after all, no matter what hardship their families are facing. The gratitude is powerful.

The Bancrofts, who live in Raymond, said that part of the work is picking up and as many as 200 families were expected at the warehouse this week.

“It’s going to be really exciting,” Janice 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. 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 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:


In memory of Carolyn Williams $25
Merry Christmas! Rusty & Sally Bennett $100
Laura George Almeida $30
In memory of Jerry MacVane $50
Merry Christmas! Helen Peterson $20
In memory of Captain Joe Robinson & Pogie $50
In memory of Robert H Foster $100
In memory of Judith York $100
Ron & Barbara Boes $200
From the Putnam family (children, grandchildren, & great grandchildren) $500
In honor of Scarborough bus driver Mr. Dan, BUS 31 from Liam Odlin $25
In honor of Scarborough bus driver Susan Murphy, BUS 3, from Amelia Odlin $25
Anonymous $100
Happy Holidays! Nicole, Erica, Joanna, Tasha, & Donna $80
In memory of Phil & Henty LaRou, who loved sharing Christmas with family & friends – all the LaRou kids $500
Merry Christmas to all! Bob & Nadine Timberlake $50
In loving memory of Roman Maxsimic, from Kathy, Tessa, and Kara $50
In memory of Nathan Eloian and in honor of Debbie Boroyan – Rich & Jane Petersen $500
Anonymous $100
Anonymous $900
John & Deb Roma $50
In celebration of our family – Pamela Cox & Rick Kessler $100
Anonymous $100
Wayne Duffett $100
Richard McGoldrick $500
Ruth Yates $100
Year to date: $70,503.50

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