Many of the parents who wrote to the Press Herald Toy Fund seeking help this year tell stories about their struggles with child care during the pandemic.

It’s a constant challenge that most Maine parents are familiar with as the number of child care providers has shrunk and fees have risen for those still in business. And there is the constant disruptions in school schedules because of COVID-19 outbreaks or exposures. And a sniffle or cough that barely registered a couple years ago is now a reason to keep a child home and try to line up a COVID test, which can take days.

That’s hard on all working parents. But imagine being a single parent or a parent who can’t afford to miss a day’s pay. For some, it has made it difficult to keep a job at all.

“I’m a single mother of 4 kids.” wrote one mother from southern Maine. “I receive food stamps and since the pandemic I have been getting more. But I’m having a hard time working because child care is so expensive and finding a sitter I can afford and trust is very hard. I’m just scraping by, so this year it’s going to be so hard to give my kids a Christmas.

“I had been receiving unemployment but now that is over and most of my money I have been using for bills. So if you are able to help this year it would be a blessing and a miracle. Life is so hard.

“Thank you and Merry Christmas.”


Donations from readers of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Sun Journal in Lewiston and The Times Record in Brunswick allow the toy fund to provide gifts to thousands of children in need in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Androscoggin and Knox counties. To help, go to


Susan Penna Bernier, and in memory of L. Philip Bernier $300
Peggy & David Waterman $100
Douglas Erickson $40
In memory of Althea, Philip, Laura and Ken. Debbie & Kurt Marston $100
Barry Gleason and Maryellen Kennedy $100
In memory of my parents, Arnold & Becky Rideout, from Terry Hand $30
In loving memory of John and Germaine Dorazio $250
For Laura $100
In memory of EJ $36
In memory of George Mannette $400
In memory of Ed, 69 1E, from Sean Conroy $400
Anonymous $200
For the children, in honor of our grandson Gavin Miller $20
Otter Watcher $100
Anonymous $100
In memory of my son Jesse, from Judith Eklund $50
In memory of RJF $50
Anonymous $25
Lisa & Aaron Gilbreath $100
Andrew, Jen & James, Andrew Skillings $100
Anonymous $100
Chris & Dorothy Beeuwkes wish everyone a Merry Holiday! $100
Anonymous $50
Anonymous $30
In memory of Mimi and Donna $50
Anonymous $50
Anonymous $50
In memory of my brother Jeffrey, and my Aunt Virginia $100
Straight Rudolph the reindeer to you! Renee $100
In honor of our grandchildren, Leo and Lucia $100
Please help the children have a good Christmas! $100
In memory of our parents, Mimi Gough & Tim Reardon $100
MJ Benson $50
Michael E. McGovern $100
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Have a whole bunch of fun! $20
In memory of deceased family members, from Rick & Audrey Martin $100
Alida Ciampa and Gerald Clancy $200
Bill & Marilyn $50
Anonymous $200
For the children whom he loved so much, in memory of Joey Barbarino, from the Barbarino family $100
In honor of my partner in life. Merry Christmas Leslie. From Rich $100
Alex & Libby McKay $100
Merry Christmas! $2,500
Wishing children joy and magic this Christmas. In memory of Larry $100
Anonymous $250
Anonymous $100
Will and Sam, Sam & Faith Beal $100
In honor of Barbara Baxter $40
Elizabeth Freeman $100

TOTAL TO DATE: $133,536

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