Many donations to the toy fund are made in memory of mothers. That seems especially true this year, with notes from donors about how it was their mothers who filled the holidays with warmth and joy and lasting memories.

One such donation came from Mary Turner: “In memory of my mom, Ruth Hamm, who donated every year, miss her so much.”

Ruth Hamm was a shining example of a loving mother who made sure her children had joy-filled holidays. And that wasn’t always easy.

We know this because many years ago, Hamm turned to the Press Herald Toy Fund for help during a difficult time. And for the rest of her life she gave back, making annual donations. Her daughter took over when Hamm died in February 2014.

Ruth Hamm told us her story in 2010 when asked about why she had become such a faithful donor to the toy fund.

“I’ve been there,” said Hamm, then an 81-year-old great-grandmother from Portland. “It was about 50 years ago.”


Hamm was divorced, and had an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. She worked as a waitress at Woolworth’s, but money was tight and she didn’t know how she could give her children the Christmas they deserved, she said.

She wrote to the toy fund, which had been launched about a decade earlier by providing toys to 1,200 needy children in Portland.

“They helped me. I remember them bringing me the presents,” Hamm said. She also remembers making sure to write a note on each one before the kids unwrapped them on Christmas morning.

“I wanted the kids to think they were from Santa Claus. They never knew until they got big,” she said. “Now, they’re all grown up and have kids of their own. They all did pretty good.”

Hamm, who later remarried and had to two more children, always remembered how hopeless it can feel for parents who struggle at this time of year, and how much gifts can mean to children at those times.

She left behind four children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren when she died in 2014.


When she spoke to us in 2010 a few years earlier, Ruth Hamm talked about how much she was looking forward to another joy-filled Christmas with her family.

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:


Given in memory of Charlotte Lacrosse $20
In memory of Paul L. Sieg, from Melissa Sieg $20
In memory of Susan Jean Stevens. We love and miss her so much. Rich, Eric, Tim, Dad & Mom $100
Irene Reilly $50
Merry Christmas, Kids! $250
In memory of Jack’s love for children $200
In memory of Ray D. Gibson $20
Anonymous $75
In memory of Wm. Mitton $250
In memory of Chris Heavey $250
In memory of Suzy and Angel $200
In memory of Doris & Eric $50
In memory of Rosie $50
Gregory Soper $50
In loving memory of Marilyn Todd, who loved all children $50
Patricia Moran $50
In memory of James Haines $100
Peggy & Jim Folland $200
Merry Christmas! $100
Merry Christmas from Eleanor $40
Anonymous $100
Susan M. King $150
In loving memory of Jack, Betty, Stephen & Mary Hines, and Eddie and Bessie Harrigan, from the family $50
Anonymous $500
In memory of the Lachance children, Love, Mom
Barbara Gauditz $1,000
In memory of Charlotte LaCrosse $50
GRB Maritime Realty – Kathy Anuszewski $100
Howie & Sara Jean Vandersea $100
In loving memory of Kathleen M. Cribby (A) , sadly missed by her sisters, Anne and Pat $1,000
Peter & Debbie Murray $200
Merry Christmas from Maddie $100
Tyler, Zachary, Griffin, & Curtis $200
Anonymous $500
In loving memory of Linda Jellerson Mills $50
Stacy Calderwood & Scott Dinsmore $500
Susan Haynes $50
Kerry And Carl Robinson $500
Kelly & David Smith $250
Peter & Cecilia Brown $200
Ala & William Reid $200
Falmouth High School Staff $225
Liz & Robert Wagner $250

Year-to-date total: $196,186.25

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