The Press Herald Toy Fund has heard a lot of heartbreaking stories over the years, including families forced to spend the holidays in homeless shelters or hotel rooms.

But no one involved with the charity can remember as many homeless children and families in need of help as this year.

“I have three wonderful kids,” one mother from southern Maine wrote to the fund two weeks ago. “I am homeless right now … It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with.”

The stories are all a little different. Sometimes the letters refer to a divorce or domestic violence or the death of a spouse as factors that contributed to their homelessness. But for some this year, it’s simply rising rents they cannot afford to pay and rental assistance programs that have run out of money or expired.

“My son and I are currently homeless and staying with friends,” another mother wrote. “After losing rental relief, Christmas is going to be extra challenging … I love my son very much and want to give him the best Christmas possible. Thank you.”

A mother of three wrote that her husband’s death three years ago from a drug overdose began her family’s struggles. “I would give away everything I have just to make sure my kids have what they need and want,” she wrote.


Her kids, who range from 5 to 9 years old, want to be with her but are instead staying with a relative where they are safe and warm while she waits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits and a chance to find housing. Her letter didn’t say where she is sleeping, except that she has no running water and can barely stay warm.

The mother, like the other parents who shared their stories, wrote that she is working to get her family back into an apartment as soon as possible.

But meanwhile, she wrote, she’s worried her children will have no gifts to unwrap and little to smile about during the holidays. And she’s grateful for the help from donors to the toy fund.

“I just want my kids to have a good Christmas. I want them to feel they are just as special as other kids,” she wrote. “Thank you.”


In memory of John Marsh, from Anne, William and Joe $100
Anonymous $50
Michael Record $25
Anonymous $100
Anonymous $30
In memory of Press Herald employees Hazel & George Barbour, from Paula & John Barbour-Brennan $100
Santa $100
Warm Christmas Wishes, from Anita Haskell $50
For the kids! $50
Frank & Nancy Fowles $100
Wishing you joy! $50
Anonymous $100
In loving memory of Joan Campbell from her family $50
David & Nancy Lloyd $100
Anonymous $100
Denise & Robert Wester $30
In memory of Aunt Barb Faietta, from Carol $100
Paul & Katie Dexter $100
Robin LaPlace/Jamie Lewis $200
Happy Holidays $100
In loving memory of Alice Davis from Debbie & Mick $50
Colby & Rosalie Perkins $100
Anonymous $50
Happy to help! Diana & Tom Allen $200
Charlie & Linda Horstmann $100
Barbara Seaver $100
Anonymous $100
Anonymous $100
Anonymous $20
Anonymous $30
Anonymous $100
Mike & Ellen Ranen $100
In loving memory of Grandma Dot from the Irish family $100
Anonymous $5,000
Barbara & Karl Albrecht $150

YEAR TO DATE:  $33,171.60

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