Hartland holiday fund still taking toy requests

Posted Dec. 08, 2010, at 8:34 p.m.

HARTLAND, Maine — From a weeks-old baby to a family with a father in Iraq to a young girl who lost her mother, a group of volunteers in the Hartland area is poised to make Christmas merry for those in need.

Barbara Day and Shirley Humphrey, sisters and longtime Hartland residents, are the force behind the town’s 13th annual Children’s Holiday Fund. Though their efforts might be small compared to programs by larger organizations, such as The Salvation Army, Day and Humphrey’s efforts have a significant impact in the Hartland, St. Albans and Palmyra area. Last year they provided gifts free of charge for 222 families.

The program’s toy giveaway is scheduled for Saturday, but there is still time for needy families to sign up.

“It’s possible because of all the donated money and toys,” said Day. “People doing this out of the goodness of their hearts is what gets this done. I really think it rejuvenates your sense that there are people who aren’t just out there to make a buck.”

Local nursing homes, churches and fire department auxiliary groups have contributed untold numbers of gifts. They have sponsored giving trees and produced dozens of hand-knit hats and mittens, and local businesses, as usual, have supported the effort in a big way, said Day. Numerous individuals also have contributed with either donations or volunteered time.

“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” said Day. “There are so many people who go out of their way to help.”

Day said downsizing by local businesses and a strong contingent of area men and women serving overseas in the armed services have made the need this year as pronounced as ever.

“Considering how bad the times are, it doesn’t mean people still don’t have the heart,” said Day.

Day said she and her sister will try to help anyone who asks for it, right up until Saturday’s disbursement of toys at Hartland Consolidated School.

For more information, to donate or to sign your children up for a merrier Christmas, contact Day at 938-3565 or Humphrey at 938-2159.

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