At 81, Carl Akin has a healthy respect for the coronavirus.

But he didn’t hesitate to jump in when he found out the Press Herald Toy Fund was gearing up for a 71st holiday season, pandemic or not.

He knew there would be a whole lot of Maine children who need a little holiday cheer and sense of normalcy, and who otherwise might not have gifts to unwrap because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

And at his age, he said, “it’s a blessing that I can get up and do it.”

Akin lives in Yarmouth and is retired from work in the insurance industry. He has been a faithful volunteer with the toy fund for about a decade.

“I’ve always followed the toy fund and I thought I’d give ’em a hand.”

He used to volunteer five days a week as a foreman, but is working two days a week this year, he said. He’s been helping to unload pallets of gifts, stack and open the boxes, and sort the toys into bins for children of different ages.

The work is the same, but the volunteer experience is not.

“It’s very different,” Akin said. “We’re wearing a mask and keeping our distance from each other. It’s not as social as it was. … We can’t sit down and have coffee together.”

Akin misses the social part. But, he said, he and his fellow volunteers all understand the important thing now is to bring joy to as many youngsters as possible in what is a difficult time for so many children and families.

“They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t,” he said.

• 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 pressheraldtoyfund.org 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: pressheraldtoyfund.org.

TODAY’S DONORS

In memory of Bob & Margaret Anderson, Dad & Mom, you are forever.  $200
Merry Christmas to all! Mary Austin Dowd & George Calvert  $200
Eat well. Stay safe. Mask up! Philbuilt  $200
Karl Thompson  $125
Anonymous  $50
In memory of David, Grammy, and Aunt Margaret. From Patti  $30
The Dresser family  $500
Anonymous  $25
Arlyn Weeks  $50
In memory of Mike Woodland  $100
Gerry Dunn  $30
Thank you for making the holidays special for so many in Maine! Bridget & Robert O’Brien  $125
In memory of Grampy Casey, Nicodemus, Madeline and Erastus  $30
Susan Marie Thomas  $500
Merry Christmas! Tom & Marti Myers  $100
In memory of Nathan Eloian, from David & Mark  $100
Les & Jill Fleisher  $30
Happy Holidays! Wayfair Sales Team  $155
In lieu of gifts for our Forecaster friends, Bob & Beth Libby  $30
In loving memory of Bill & Connie Murphy & Bob Carleton  $50
In loving memory of Sean…Mom & Dad  $100
The Oehrlein family  $100
Anonymous  $100
In memory of our parents, who believed all children deserve a joyful Christmas  $50
In loving memory of Johnna Libby, “Everyone’s Mom”  $100
Anonymous  $500
Anonymous  $200
For Joe & Rita, who taught their kids well  $200
Anonymous  $200
In memory of George, from Jane  $100
Andy Abello & Amanda Russell  $50
Anonymous  $50
In honor of Susan Kraus  $100
Anonymous  $2,000
In loving memory of Althea Noyes  $50
Make a child smile! Tim Lukas & D. O’Callaghan  $50
Anonymous  $200
May peace & healing be part of everyone’s holiday!  $30
Anonymous  $100
Anonymous  $100
Be kind. Nice to know that our donation will make some little kids happy.  $100
Anonymous  $20
Anonymous  $50
Wishing every child magical Christmas memories!  $100
In memory of my parents, from Paula Dutko  $100
Anonymous  $30
In memory of Mom and Pop  $100
Anonymous  $50
Anonymous  $200
Merry Christmas, from Nana & Papa  $50
Your neighbor  $50

Year-to-date total: $37,635

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