The Press Herald Toy Fund is preparing to bring joy to thousands of Maine children going through tough times, and it’s already seeing a steady flow of donations from readers.

And, for a second year, the fund is making adjustments to carry on the 72-year-old tradition in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of coming into the toy fund warehouse to meet the volunteers, parents will soon be picking up the gifts at a drive-thru distribution site. It’s a method that was developed last year to allow for social distancing when that was still one of the only ways to slow the spread of the virus.

“Drive-thru curbside pickup was perfect last year,” said Kathleen Meade, executive director of the fund.

So, with the virus again spreading through the community despite the availability of vaccines, curbside pickups will start up again in the coming weeks for parents who are able to pick up the gifts for their children.

Gifts also are delivered to families who can’t get to the toy fund workshop or who live in more distant communities. A network of nonprofit agencies that partner with the toy fund distribute the gifts and make sure children aren’t left out.

The vaccines, meanwhile, have made it possible for many of the toy fund’s longtime volunteers to get back into the workshop this year. It was difficult for some of them to sit out the 2020 campaign, especially for those who made volunteering an annual holiday season tradition, sometimes for a decade or more.

Although some are staying home one more season to be safe, Meade said about 30 of the faithful regulars have jumped back into action.

“They were so enthusiastic and ready to go,” she said.

While all the volunteers have been vaccinated, Meade said they continue to wear masks and work in smaller crews of six to eight people at a time. The extra precautions are intended to keep the volunteers and families safe, but also are in place to prevent any disruption in the very labor-intensive operation that is vital to bringing holiday joy to thousands of deserving children.

The toy fund relies on donations from readers to buy gifts for children in need. To make a donation online, go to www.pressherald.com/toy-fund. Starting Friday, donations to the fund will be published each day through the holiday season.

TODAY’S DONATIONS

In memory of Eric “Andy” Dow Anderson, who passed away 2/10/21 $100
In memory of Andy Dow Anderson $100
M Junior Bridge $100
Andrew Rodney Jr $200
In memory of Eric Anderson $40
Anonymous $5
From the Estate of Harry Carlin patriarch of the 12c’s $20,000
In memory of Eric Anderson $25
Lorranine Pergenzer $150
In memory of Dr Ellsworth Reed $250
John Testa $100
In honor of my grandkids – Brandon, Connor, Samantha, and Trevor $100
Loretta McKinnon $25
Karl & Beth Jacobson $250
Francis Fay $150
The Giles Family $200
Robin LaPlace & Jamie Lewis $100
Anonymous $100
Anonymous $155
In lieu of Christmas presents $150
In memory of my parents, Robert P & Carolyn B Snyder, from Robert Snyder $100
Anonymous $75
Marty Hoxsie $100
Paul & Katie Dexter $100
Happy Holidays!! $50
Katherine Crosson & Lynn Bailets $100
In loving memory of Althea Noyes, from Robert Shafto $50
Anonymous $150
Whitney and Maria Drake $250
The Sink Family $50
Anonymous $500
Total to date: $23,825

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