The Press Herald Toy Fund was founded in the midst of a recession 71 years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of children have been served by the charity since.

There are always families that need help, even in the best of economic times. Events such as divorces, illnesses, deaths, and accidents don’t follow economic cycles.

But it’s no coincidence the toy fund was launched in that hard winter of 1949. The need has always grown during hard economic times, when unemployment and poverty rise.

The toy fund has been here through 11 economic recessions – some short and shallow; others deep and long. Severe recessions in 1982 and 2008 pushed the national unemployment rate to 10 percent.

The COVID-19 recession that began early this year poses perhaps the biggest challenge to the 71-year-old toy fund.

National unemployment reached as high as 14.7 percent this year, the highest since 1938. Thousands of Maine families that felt financially secure 10 months ago are now asking for help.

And there is no sign of a recovery heading into the holidays. New applications for unemployment benefits in Maine rose again last week as a surge in COVID-19 cases led to more business cutbacks and job losses. More than 40,000 Mainers are now unemployed.

One piece of good news, though, is that the toy fund is still here to help when it’s needed most. And the community is rallying to help, as it always has.

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 DONATIONS:

Brock and Denise Kwiatkowsky  $100
Anonymous  $20
Anonymous $100
In memory of Clarence and Phyliss Smith, from Steve and Margaret Smith  $100
Granny and Pop  $100
Ian McEvoy  $50
Wishing you all a safe and healthy holiday season. MMP Cardiac Surgery  $150
Nina Scott $20
Kerry and Jed Stevens  $100
Haydee Foreman  $100
In memory of my parents, Joe & Lois Page, who always made sure their kids had a wonderful Christmas even in tough times. Peggy Page $100
The Ramsey Family  $150
For the kids, Love the Kroots & Pups – Deb, Bri, Jase, Trav, Lex, Danielle, BK, Nitro, Neva, Guin, AJ & Gunny  $250
Merry Christmas! A&V  $25
Anonymous $50
Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating. Happy Holidays to all! Here’s to brighter days ahead! Derek Berg $500
Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!  $200
Anonymous $100
In loving memory of our parents, William & Martha Horr, and Miles & Roberta Thompson  $50
In memory of W. Earle Eskilson who worked on the Toy Fund in 1949.  $50
In memory of Sally Eskilson  $50
Harold & Gail Zeliger  $50
In memory of our wonderful parents William & Mary Redmond  $100
John & Barbara Cornish  $100
Diane & Carl Walp $200
Suzanne Bennitt  $25
Carolyn & David Fensore  $75
Bishop Properties  $200
Merry Christmas! Joan & Bob Nigto  $100
Anonymous  $100
Sebago Canvas Shop  $35
In memory of our departed loved ones $100
In memory of John C. Allen Jr.  $500
From Jeff, Ellen and Connor Worthing  $75
Jo-An Armstrong  $10
In loving memory of our parents  $25
Anonymous  $100
Dennis Crowley  $100
From Judy & Joe Fagone  $50
In loving memory of our deceased family members, from Jack & Pat  $200
In memory of Eddie & Eddie Jr.  $100
Womens Riverside Golf Assn.  $10
Lester & Anita Noyes  $100
Sheila Donaldson  $50
For Bruce Roberts $50
Julie Cartern $50
From Violet, Maya, Zach and Danika  $50
In loving memory of Tim Durant, Love Mom & Dad  $100
Merry Christmas from Liam, Annie, Ella, Lauren and Kirsten  $200
In loving memory of Lora A. Lemanski, from Adam & Luke  $100
Merry Christmas to my great grandchildren, from Barbara Mclellan  $100
In loving memory of my mom and dad – Cliff & Gerry Ashley, from daughter Joan  $25
18 Grateful Rs  $100
Anonymous $100
Anonymous $200
In memory of my beloved husband, Bob Davis, with love, Betsy  $50
Peter & Kristen Lemay  $50
Cheryl & Joe Johnson  $50
In memory of Ron, Maurice and Vera. Love Bo & Tina  $100
Tom & Susan White $50
In memory of my wife, Sharon, and our daughter, Krista, both of whom loved Christmas  $100
Judith Tetreault $50
William & Judith Beedle  $50
Laura & James Tyrrell  $50
In memory of Seth, from Bob, Nancy & Zeke Jordan  $100
From Chip Flanagan  $100
Anonymous $50
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous  $25
Happy Holidays! $50
Anonymous $30

Year-to-date total: $124,186.25

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