WATERVILLE — Boxes of Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children across Maine remain empty or half-full as volunteers for a local nonprofit anxiously await new donations while pleading for help.

The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, a nonprofit organization that provides services for families and children such as counseling and child care, said Wednesday it still needs to fill about half of its boxes to meet its goal of serving more than 1,700 children this Christmas.

The nonprofit gives each child a box typically filled with new mittens and hats, a book and a coloring book, crayons, a large toy and a small toy, pajamas, warm clothes and a family game. While it collects donations year-round, the organization tends not to get a lot toward the end of the year, when it needs them the most.

Most people tend to think about donating after Thanksgiving, said Whitney Moreau, spokesperson for the The Maine Children’s Home, who works for Nancy Marshall Communications. This leaves volunteers with little time to pack boxes and get them to families by Christmas.

“It’s truly just a struggle every year,” Moreau said Wednesday. “We do need that time to distribute boxes in advance of the holiday.”

Volunteers will be able to pack donations of new, sealed items for this year through the beginning of December, Moreau said. While later donations still will be accepted, they will be counted toward next year.

A full list of donation needs can be found at mainechildrenshome.org.

The nonprofit has asked for help in the past when it was still 750 boxes short of its goal only a week from its deadline.

However, “they always find a way to reach their goal,” Moreau said.

Some years the community comes out and helps them get by. Other years, they use money from the reserve fund or money raised by the Friends of the Maine Children’s Home at fundraisers.

Aside from the struggle to raise donations quickly enough, Moreau said, the Maine Children’s Home’s other projects are going strong, Moreau said. The organization also runs an adoption program and a counseling center and provides adoption counseling, guidance for teen parents, early child care and summer camp scholarships.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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