More than 43,000 Mainers are out of work and seeking unemployment benefits.

About 9,000 households are behind on rent payments.

And thousands of Maine children live in households where there is not enough to eat.

Those numbers from the most recent weekly U.S. Census survey tell a story of where we are: nearly 10 months into a global pandemic and entering a holiday season that will be unlike any we have experienced before.

Letters flowing into the Press Herald Toy Fund tell the same story, but from the personal experience of Maine parents asking for help.

“We are behind in rent (by $6,000, I think),” wrote a mother of two preschoolers.


“The only income we have is my son’s disability check,” wrote an out-of-work mother of three.

As Toy Fund Director Kathleen Meade puts it, “It’s tough out there.”

By using donations from newspaper readers to buy gifts for children who otherwise might not receive any during the holidays, the Press Herald Toy Fund has helped Maine families through other tough times. It has served more than 200,000 children since the fund began during another difficult winter in 1949.

But the pandemic is making this year especially challenging, and important.

Maine children are experiencing the stresses and hardships, too, and are just as eager for life to return to normal, even for a little while. But the financial problems, as well as illnesses, family breakups, domestic violence and other circumstances, mean more families need help to give their children some of the simple joys of a normal holiday season, including gifts to unwrap and new toys to play with.

• 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:

For the kids – Barbara Gauditz   $2,000
To Remain Anonymous  $75
Merry Christmas: C,D,D,B, & Baby F  $100
Thomas & Mary Emerson  $100
Margaret H Smith  $200
Anonymous  $100
Ada Spinney  $200
Darwin & Kathleen Stanley  $500
In loving memory of our parents, Stan and Ruth Blake, and our sister, Janet Blake. Love, Linda Cooper & Bonnie Kam  $50
Judith & Gordon Oliver $50
Be Kind, Dianne & Gregg Goodrich  $100
John Furey  $100
In loving memory of David Poirier, from Shirley Poirier & family  $25
Skyrocket  $100
Francis M Fay  $150
In memory of Allison Broadbent Beahm – Love, Mom & Dad  $100
In honor of my grandkids: Brandon, Connor, Samantha, and Trevor  $100
Beatrice Farrington  $10
Richard McIntosh  $20
James T Foley  $100
Arnie MacDonald & Liza Moore  $1000
In memory of Flora & Walter Perkins  $100
Lowell A Pease $25
Cape Elizabeth Grange $200
Martha Taylor  $100
Alfred & Phyllis Fuchs $50
In memory of my beloved Aunt Aldone & Uncle Larry of Falmouth  $25
John T Gorman Foundation  $1000
Marcelle Labbe  $10
Town Fair Tire Foundation c/o Casey Biddeford Location  $1000
In memory of Dr Ellsworth C Reed  $250
Anonymous  $300
Anonymous  $2500
Happy Holidays!  $30
Anonymous  $30
Anonymous  $100
Lawrence Lunt  $25
From Mabel & Molly  $10
In memory of Gordon Corkum, from Judy & Mark Johnston  $100
For Robert & Norma Foster, my parents, from Dottie  $100
So that children can have a joyful & magical holiday despite politics, pandemics, and family problems! Gretchen & Ray  $500
The Diaz Family  $500
Neal D Perry  $20
Anonymous  $100
Alan & Genny Leathers   $200
L Listo  $50
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous  $30
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous  $2500
In grateful memory of our parents who taught us the value of giving. Chris & Chris Newell  $200
From Baxter  $200
Anonymous  $20
Bill & Polly Vaughan  $100
Anonymous  $50
Anonymous  $20
Hoping to share some of the joy that I have received.  $50
In loving memory of Donna Molinari  $100
Anonymous  $50
Phyllis Reames  $100
Anonymous  $30
Anonymous  $50
In memory of my great-grandparents, Irvin & Rachel Cyr, Love Grady  $20
Scott & Linda Johnston  $50
Anonymous Millenial  $100
James B McGrath $50
Anonymous  $50
William & Lori Cook  $50
Mary Cullinan  $50
Richard Krull MD  $100
In loving memory of Grandma Dot from the Irish family  $100
Inspired by Hugo-Vidal  $100
Inspired by Hugo-Vidal  $100
Anonymous  $40
Anonymous  $25
Barbara Gauditz  $1000
Tom & Dianna Allen  $200
Thank Victoria’s article in the Sunday Telegram! $30

Year-to-date total: $18,270


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