By some measures, times are good in Maine this holiday season.

Unemployment is at historic lows. The rate of people living in poverty has dropped to a level last seen before the financial crisis a decade ago.

It’s a far cry from 1949, when times were hard for many families and what would become the Press Herald Toy Fund began using donations from newspaper readers to buy toys so needy children had gifts to unwrap on Christmas.

But, through all the economic ups and downs in the past 68 years, there have always been families who need help to brighten the holidays for their children.

And it’s no different this year. Already, the fund has received requests to help 1,500 families who aren’t sharing the financial benefits of a strong economy. The number will be double that, at least, as applications flow into the fund in the coming days and weeks.

A woman in southern Maine wrote to the fund for help, saying she, her husband and three children live on a monthly income of $2,000, the equivalent of $12.50 an hour and well below the official definition of poverty for a family of five.

“After paying bills, mortgage, heat, lights and groceries, there is no money left for Christmas. Thank you for everything.”

The need should come as no surprise. Even in a good economy, those earning low wages are less likely to feel the benefits, and that has been especially true in the current expansion judging by the poverty rate during the past few decades.

More than 41,000 Maine children, about one out of every six kids, was living in poverty in 2016, the most recent year for which U.S. Census data is available.

Maine’s childhood poverty rate – 16.7 percent – was twice the rate of childhood poverty in New Hampshire and the second highest in New England, after Rhode Island. The national rate of childhood poverty in 2016 was 19.5 percent.

In 2000 and 2001, during another period of economic growth, the childhood poverty rate dropped to 12.5 percent in Maine.

All of which explains why a single mother from the midcoast is among those seeking help, and also officially living in poverty.

She and her 6-year-old daughter get by on her monthly income of $1,200, she wrote to the toy fund.

“My paycheck goes for food, rent, electricity and other household items. My hours are different every week and when work is slow I get let go,” she wrote. “Any help giving my daughter a decent Christmas would be fine. Thank you.”

Today’s donations

In memory of Barbara Faietta from staff at 22 Bramhall $50

In memory of Thomas Chadbourne from the Ultrasound/Vascular Staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston $300

Walmart Logistics, Lewiston $1,500

Anonymous $4

Thank you, Bruce Roberts! Robert Rawding $20

John and Nancy Cummings $400

Falmouth Lions’ Club $200

Dr. Joseph L. Long $200

FB Anonymous $50

Katherine and Jack Mann for Margaret who loves Christmas $50

Herbert Taylor $25

The Morse Hill Trust $2,000

In memory of Dr. Ellsworth Reed $250

In honor of the Bonny Briar Road Girls Cindy Beckwith Fallona $100

Anonymous $300

Anonymous $100

In loving memory of Patricia M. Talbot – Dick and Cheryl Talbot $25

Anonymous $20

In loving memory of Irvin and Rachel Cyr – Carmen Bailey $20

Carol and Alan Sockloff $100

Adam Loranger and Christina Gilllies $100

Merry Christmas from Dave,Elaine, Kate, Cyrus and Ellie $150

Glenna & Mat $30

In memory of Angela Marie 12-24-1973 from the family of Angela Marie Cyr $50

Total for year $6,044

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