It’s a tough time to be in the restaurant business, but that hasn’t stopped two local family-owned operations from donating food for the volunteers at the Press Herald Toy Fund.

Anthony’s Italian Kitchen in Portland and Derosier’s in Freeport, have been keeping the volunteers going strong by delivering free pizzas to the charity’s busy warehouse. It’s an unseen but important contribution to an annual campaign that brings joy to thousands of kids at the holidays.

Phil Wagner’s great-great grandfather started Derosier’s in 1904 and his daughter is the sixth generation to work there. The Main Street business has been feeding the volunteers for years and Wagner didn’t consider stopping this year just because times are hard for the business.

“It’s not ideal,” Wagner said of the business environment. “But the people they are helping are in a lot worse shape.”

Anthony’s Italian Kitchen owner Tony Barrasso has been a long and faithful supporter of the fund and its volunteers. But business is way off in the heart of the Old Port, with downtown offices empty and activity at the nearby courthouse scaled back.

“No, we’re not doing good,” said Barrasso. “At least we’re still here.”

He gave much of the credit for that to his landlord, Tim Soley. “I have a great landlord. He’s cut my rent in half and put the rest on credit and said you can pay me later down the road.”

Being a family-run business helps, too. “It’s me and the kids, and some of us don’t get paid all the time,” Barrasso said.

But not sending pizzas to help the toy fund was never a possibility, especially when times are so tough for so many, he said.

“How can you beat what they’re doing?” Barrasso said. “I just hope they’re getting enough money this year. There’s a lot of need our there.”

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 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 DONORS:

In memory of Captain Joe Robinson & Pogie  $100
In honor of Rep. John Lewis from Kris and Cindy  $50
Merry Christmas! $150
Carol Juliano  $100
In memory of Theodore J. Axelsen, the official Santa for the Portland Museum of Art  $100
Ian & Florence White  $75
With loving memories of Tylar Burgess, Carolyn”Munchkin” Williams, Gary Farrell, Paul E. Brown. We love & miss you all, Johnny & Sharon Farrell $400
Thank you for helping!  $100
Merry Christmas from Aubree, Preston, Diddy & Shelby  $50
The Barron Center  $215
Carson & Chris Lutes  $100
Anonymous  $30
Jenifer Stewart  $100
Merry Christmas! Reese, Ryan and Jordan Harder  $200
June Morowski  $50
Happy Birthday Tina, from Dave & Charlie  $30
Karen McElmurry  $50
From Mark & Cindy  $100
In memory of Lulu & Hob  $50
In loving memory of Paul Phillips Jr. & David P. Phillips, from family  $100
From Ridgeland Gardens $50
In memory of my sons, Thomas & Richard, from Kathryn Nee $100
Paul & Stephanie Castle  $75
In memory of Clifford Babkirk and Dean Bridges, from Bev Bridges  $50
In memory of Geraldine and Warren  $100
With loving memories of Robert and Derek Simmons  $100
Anonymous  $100
In memory of Jack & Ivy O’Reilly, who loved Christmas and children  $250
Richard King  $150
Jeffrey & Sandra Greenleaf  $30
Inspired by Victoria Hugo-Vidal,  from Carol Anderson $50
Patty & Gerry Bouchard  $75
Elizabey Scully  $100
Irwin & Eli  $300
Anonymous  $200
In loving memory of Billy, Toni & Bill McDonough, and Vicki & Harold Bragdon. From Carol Bragdon  $100
In memory of Phil, Connie, June & Heather. From David & Carol Boston  $200
In memory of Charlie Buddy McSwigin  $200
The Porch & Curry Children  $200
In memory of my mother & father, William & Alice Ladyszewski  $100
Janet Huot  $10
Anonymous  $50
Kenneth & Kathryn Moran   $200
Richard & Joan Brooks  $600
Marsh Agency Insurance  $500
Sarah & Baxter Wilson  $75
From the Ertman Family  $100
Anonymous $1000
May the Spirit of Christmas be with you. From Stuart and Margaret Welch  $500
Lauren & Caroline Hester  $75
Mike Ranen  $50
Anonymous  $50
Anonymous  $30
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous  $100

Year-to-date total: $101,856.25

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