It’s the pandemic side effect virtually everyone can relate to: stress.

Working remotely, learning remotely, feeling isolated on one hand and fearing contact with people on the other.

Add a lost job or an illness or a disability, and that’s the kind of stress being witnessed by front line caseworkers like those who work at Waban, a nonprofit based in Sanford that supports children and adults with developmental and other disabilities.

The agency is one of many faithful partners of the Press Herald Toy Fund, helping the fund get holiday gifts to children whose families are struggling. And this year, Waban is helping distribute gifts to 73 families with a total of 171 children, up from 50 to 55 families in recent years.

“A lot of families are really struggling with day-to-day life,” said Jennifer Putnam, executive director of Waban. And, she said, “a lot of them had to leave their jobs or cut back on hours.”

“Our caseworkers are seeing that the overall stress level in their households seems much higher,” she said. “Kids are generally very resilient, but it wears on kids and the families in general. The whole family feels the stress, including the children.”

That’s where the toy fund and its donors come in. Waban helps families connect with all kinds of support services, but holiday gifts is not something covered by standard assistance programs.

“This really is a singular resource for families who don’t have anywhere else to turn for holiday gifts,” Putnam said. “This does relieve that stress and I think just brings hope to the families in general.

“Over and over, we hear how grateful the families are for the toy fund. It really is a blessing.”

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 71st 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:


Blessings on us all!  $30
Happy holidays to all! Marybeth and John Richardson  $100
From F/V Maria and Dorothy and F/V Miss Amelia  $200
Anonymous $21.25
Kathleen & Ken Pierce  $200
Thanks for doing this every year for the kids! Cathy and Bo  $500
Simone Douglas  $30
Patricia McCarthy  $100
Paul and Mary Lynn Engel  $50
In memory of Vaun Dole Born, from Christine & Willie Johnson  $125
In loving memory of Rebecca Fox Carr & her brother, Howard Fox. Love, Bill Carr  $50
So all can have a merry & blessed Xmas! In memory of Jack. Love Anne, William and Joe  $100
Anonymous  $100
Anne Callender & Joe Delaney  $500
In memory of Jeremy, who loved Christmas  $100
In honor of Leslie from Rich  $100
Happier Holidays! Ann & Jeff  $100
Anonymous  $20
From the 12 C’s of the 12 C’s  $1440
Sheila Pennock  $50
Tom & Donna Downing  $100
In memory of two wonderful sets of parents who live on in our hearts  $50
With love, Merry Christmas!  $200
In honor of our grandmother, Ruth Osgood, who loved and supported all children, especially at Christmas. Scott & Christine Dakers  $100
McCormack Suzie  $150
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous $200
Anonymous  $50
Clover Padgett $500
Merry Christmas. God Bless you!  $100
Miss you, my Nana Osgood  $30
Anonymous  $50
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous  $100
In memory of Bob Barrows and Cheryl Nanos … Merry Christmas! Becky & Madison  $50
Anonymous  $50
Anonymous  $100
Heather Payson  $100
Holiday joy for the children! Barbara and Jay  $250
In memory of our parents, from Kathy & Joe  $50
Wishing you a safe and Joyous Christmas with family & friends. Lloyd & Jeanne Crocker  $100
Anonymous  $50
Anonymous  $100
May there be joy in your homes this Christmas!  $100
Happy Holidays! $50
In memory of Jim Donahue, from Audrey & Vivienne Wark, and Arlo Belanger  $50
Carolyn & Alan Taylor  $100
In loving memory of my father, David A Wheatland. Love, Becky  $100
In lieu of stocking stuffers for the Hemeon’s in Maine. Merry Xmas kids! Leslie  $200
For the children  $150
Anonymous  $100

Year-to-date total: $64,001.25

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