You may know Victoria Hugo-Vidal as “the Maine Millennial.”

And she’s OK with that. Her Maine Millennial column in the Maine Sunday Telegram has many devoted admirers, a fact that turns out to be really good news for a lot of Maine children around the holidays.

Hugo-Vidal used her Nov. 15 column to make a pitch for donations to the Press Herald Toy Fund, which she does each year by telling personal stories of her own childhood holidays to remind us all what a gift can mean to a child. The fund uses reader donations to make sure less fortunate children have gifts at the holidays, too.

“Every year I got a bag full of books,” she wrote in the column last month. “One glorious year, my mom scored a dozen Baby-Sitters Club paperbacks at a yard sale. There are multiple pictures of young Victoria curled up in an armchair, surrounded by Christmas detritus, ignoring the brand-new toys in favor of a 50-cent paperback from Goodwill.”

Her column, for reasons she can’t identify, touched a chord of generosity in many of her readers. It might be her own Christmas memories that make people think of their kids and grandkids, she said.

“I was a really, really lucky kid growing up,” she said. “I do have a lot of happy Christmas memories. … And that’s why I like the toy fund, because it helps kids who aren’t so lucky.”

Some donors touched by that column called her out by name in notes to the fund: “Inspired by Hugo-Vidal” ($100), “Thank Victoria’s article in the Sunday Telegram!” ($30) and “In honor of Victoria Hugo-Vidal, my favorite PPH/MST columnist” ($100).

No one knows how many other donations were inspired by Hugo-Vidal, although we suspect the $100 from “Anonymous Millennial” is one.

Then the fund got a call from a couple who said they so much loved the column that they wanted to send a check. They asked to remain anonymous, but it’s worth noting that they are not millennials. They are both 71 years old, the same age as the toy fund itself.

The couple’s note arrived last week: “The article by Victoria Hugo-Vidal, excellently written, inspired us to participate.”

And with it was a check for $10,000.

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:


Scooter Dugini  $300
In memory of my parents, Martha & Ward Harrison  $250
Anonymous  $200
In honor of our grandchildren – Emmerson and Elijah  $50
Frank Pecoraro  $1,000
The article by Victoria Hugo-Vidal, excellently written, inspired us to participate  $10,000
Elizabeth Hunt  $25
In memory of Stanley F. Sampson Jr., from Ardean Pike  $75
Mary Lou Lemaire  $50
In memory of my parents, Isabelle and Whitney Caldwell  $200
Marjorie Whipple  $100
Tom LeDue  $20
Sandra Lyons  $10
Suzanne & John Murphy  $500
William Milliken  $100
Ethel Phinney  $25
Anonymous  $25
Thomas & Nockoline Chittick  $100
In memory of Barbara & Harlan Higgins, from Sally & Jack Welch  $100
In memory of Martha & Donald Welch, from Sally & Jack Welch    $100
Carole & Bill Paul  $50
Richard & Nancy Lemiuex  $250
Koocher Family Charitable Fund  $1,000
In memory of Joyce McDonough  $100
Madeline & Daniel Carroll  $50
In memory of Frank & Vi  $200
Anonymous  $200
Anonymous  $50
Merry Christmas to all the children  $50
In honor of my grandchildren – Max, Matilda, Mavis, Isabella, Anica, Eli, Joss, & Wyatt. Love, Terri Messer  $150
June Delano  $100
Anonymous  $100
Merry Christmas to the children! XOXO  $250
In memory of Marion Dawson, from Elena Schmidt  $250
In memory of my husband, former Westbrook Mayor Phillip D. Spiller, from Elaine M. Spiller  $50
Please, please: Use Face Masks for Me, You & your Loved Ones. It’s not an order, I care about you, too! Carol R Riley  $30
Anonymous  $100
Gary & Katrina Richardson  $100
In memory of Virginia Bryan  $300
Jo Radner  $50
Charles Sims  $100
Mike & Michelle Jean  $100
Warm wishes for the holidays. Belis, Ben and Bayla  $200
A bunch of Middle St. kids that got Christmas presents in 1960  $50
In honor of my parents, George & Dorothy Robinson, who donated every year to Christmas funds, from Sherry Snow  $100
RJ  $85
In honor of Helen Stokes  $200
In memory of JBH and MJH, from Priscilla Hebert  $50
Melodie & John  $150
Anonymous  $30
In memory of Drew  $50
Anonymous  $50
Giles family  $100
Happy Holidays! $50
Mr. Kitty  $50
Have a very Merry Christmas!  $100

Year-to-date total: $87,876.25

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