Volunteers work to fill bags with toys for this year’s Toy Fund. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Press Herald Toy Fund workshop has been bustling for weeks in preparation for the holidays. But the volunteers shifted into a higher gear this week.

The first batch of gifts is moving out.

About 50 volunteers step up each year to keep the fund going. Many are longtimers who know the drill, while others are brand new and eager to learn.

For weeks, they have been unpacking large stacks of boxes and sorting toys into bins, each one designated for children in different age groups. The toys and books are placed in individual bags, one per child, then into bigger bags – each containing the appropriate gifts for a specific family.

The large bags are opaque, a key detail that preserves the element of surprise. Each bag is carefully marked with a family’s name, but only after two different volunteers sign off that the right gifts are in the right bag.

By Thursday afternoon, volunteers had assembled large rows of bags in preparation for the first round of pickups by social service agencies scattered across southern and midcoast Maine. Dozens of nonprofits partner with the toy fund each year to connect families with the charity and then to distribute the gifts, a critical link for the many parents who don’t have transportation.


About half of the gifts each year are distributed by partner agencies. The others are handed directly to parents who come to the workshop later this month.

And because of newspaper readers who donate the cash and volunteers who provide the muscle, it’s a ritual that has been repeated each holiday season since 1949.


Bill & Marilyn $30
Bruce Roberts Fund was started the year I was born in 1949. Every year, we had a Christmas because of you. Thank you, Sharon Campbell Grant $100
In honor of my great uncle, Matt Barron, co-founder of the Toy Fund. From David Donovan $50
I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I hope this brings extra cheer to children who do! And books! $50
Mike & Kathy Camire $100
Renee Givner $150
First Congregational Church, Scarborough, Outreach Committee $500
In memory of Allison Broadbent Beahm. Love, Mom & Dad $100
Sarah Drake $100
Brendan, Pippin, and Petey $30
For a moment of joy in the life of a child who believes! Meg $250
Newell & Suzanne Augur $100
In memory of Flora Perkins $200
Kenneth Spirer & Joan Leitzer $200
Elizabeth Goldsmith $30
Ellen & Eric Knight $200
Cape Elizabeth Lions Club $250
Richard & Kimberly Brooks $200
In memory of Katie $100
Andrew Candelore Jr. $200
Carlton & Joan Leach $200
In memory of Mina & Joe $50


YEAR TO DATE: $36,361.60

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.