Donations flood Hope Haven's toy drive

LEWISTON — On Thursday, Beverly Robbins cried in despair. Friday, she cried with joy.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Beverly Robbins of Hope Haven Gospel Mission sorts through items that were donated Friday. Robbins said she was overwhelmed by the response to her plea for gifts and money to fulfill the wishes of needy children. 

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Beverly Robbins of Hope Haven Gospel Mission in Lewiston sorts through items donated Friday.

Hope Haven Gospel Mission got its Christmas miracle.

Hours after the Sun Journal published a story about the mission's desperate plea for help with its toy drive, readers flooded the mission with toys, gifts and more than $17,000 cash — far more than the $1,000 it had hoped for. Sixty-one children were at risk of being turned away. The mission now has enough to give presents to every child on its list, and it can set aside money for next year.

"We cannot believe what's going on," said Robbins, head of the Others Ministry, as volunteers sorted through piles of toys and donors continued to drop off more.

Hope Haven's annual toy drive began about 17 years ago to serve children up to age 17 from Lewiston-Auburn and the surrounding area. Parents apply for help, submitting wish lists along with their applications. The toy drive does its best to fulfill those wishes. When a wish can't be granted, the mission gives an available, age-appropriate gift.

Last year, Hope Haven received more than $4,000 in cash and donated gifts for its toy drive. This year, donations dropped in half. At the same time, the number of needy children nearly doubled, from 125 to more than 200.

Just a couple of days before Christmas, Robbins had 39 families — 61 children — she couldn't help.

"I've got people coming in constantly now, and I'm having to stop and tell them we don't have anything for them, and it's getting tough," she said Thursday. "Some of them are in tears. They're trying not to cry. They're looking like, 'Oh, Lord, what am I going to do now?'"

The mission posted an emergency plea for donations on its website, and a story about that plea appeared in Friday's Sun Journal. By 8 a.m. Friday, donors were streaming through Hope Haven's Lincoln Street door.

"Oh, my goodness, it has been nonstop all morning," Robbins said. "People have been bringing in donations, they've been bringing in money, things are going in over PayPal. I'm crying again!"

By early Friday afternoon, the mission's toy donation room had filled with games, toys, clothes and gifts, piled high on tables and spilling out of sacks. One woman and her family brought in five bags of toys, then stayed to volunteer.

"Her husband read about it in the paper and he called her and said, 'Isn't there something we could do?' So they brought their two little boys and we've got them at work," Robbins said.

Others have donated money, dropping off cash or donating online using PayPal. The toy drive had needed at least $1,000 to get gifts for the 61 children left on its list.

By 2 p.m., it had 17 times that amount.

Many donors didn't leave their names. They handed cash or a check to a volunteer and vanished.

"I just can't see kids go without Christmas; I just can't," said one man who pulled up in a pickup truck to hand Robbins money. "I remember what it was like when I was little and I want another kid to do the same."

His wish will be granted. Volunteers on Friday sorted and bagged presents for the 61 children left on the list — the kids who were nearly left out. Families will get those gifts Saturday, Christmas Eve.

"We don't even know how to start thanking people," Robbins said. "It's just tremendous."

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 's picture


Im struggling myself this year, so I got my daughter to go through her toy box and get the toys she doesn;t play with anymore, then we went to the store and bought some toys for boys because all we have are girls toys. We couldn't afford much but we gave some to another family. It just goeas to show you don't have to be rich to help. I've been on the other end when I didn't know what i was going to do. My daughter is first after bills and food. I go without. Bet we always try to help. We help the shelters for the kids and for the animals at least once a year as much as we can. We brought our donations at 11 am to the back door. So those kids who have nothing will have a christmas after all. Cathy and Skyler

David  Cote's picture

Thank you to all @ the S/J

Thank you for making us aware of the plight of those at Hope Haven and the people they help. Reading about this and helping has filled my heart with joy. Bless all of you at S/J, all the bloggers on this site, for though opinions may differ we'd still do the right thing to help out someone in need, and bless all those at Hope Haven, Good Shephard and all the other folks committed to making the lives of the less fortunate better. Most of all, bless all the children for they are the ones who suffer the most when the day gets dark. Let us all hope and make sure all their days are full of the light of hope and love. Happy Holidays to you all...

 's picture

It's great to see stories

It's great to see stories like this, and the anonymous people who paid off delinquent layaway's at K Mart, and the Santa handing out envelopes with $100 bills in them in really restores my faith in people!

 's picture


What is the paypal contact address or how do I procede to donate to them via paypal?

 's picture

http://www.hopehavengospelmis , then click on the "donate now" button on the left hand column

David  Cote's picture


Aaaannnnnnnd... I'm going down again today!

Jason Theriault's picture


Chalk up one for the good guys.

Randall Pond's picture

Donations flood Hope Haven's toy drive

Stories like this make you cry and make you believe,"That Yes Virginia, "There Really IS A SANTA CLAUS!


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