Matthew Barron and Robert Beith knew they were on to something in the days after Christmas 1949.

Barron, Portland’s assistant welfare director, and Beith, an editor at the Evening Express, had just raised about $4,000 in donations from newspaper readers and used the money to buy toys for more than 1,500 children who were facing holidays without gifts.

A new charity was born.

What is now called the Press Herald Toy Fund outlived both men. Barron died in 1980 and Beith died in 1990.

Before he died, Beith credited Barron with understanding not only the need for the charity, but also the community’s desire to help.

“Matt Barron always said that the people of the area would never fail the fund drive,” he said.

Seventy years later, that statement still holds true.

So far this season, readers have donated more than $116,000 and the fund provided gifts to thousands of needy children.

The toy fund is still in need of cash donations from readers to cover its costs and to sustain the charity as it moves into it’s seventh decade helping Maine families.

Donations received during the holiday season are published in the newspaper, and those that have not yet been published will be listed in a future edition of the newspaper and online. Financial support also is accepted year-round and ensures that the fund will have the resources to buy gifts the next year.

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 provides toys to needy families in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, Lincoln and Knox counties.

• DONATIONS to help buy the toys can be made year round 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:





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