SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – A consortium of local businesses, educators and non-profit organizations gathered to kick off the annual Season of Hope Toy Drive with a challenge to individuals, schools and businesses serving Sussex and Northern Warren County: Collect enough toys by mid-December to enable thousands of children to have a memorable and happy holiday. Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Member George Graham addressed the group clad as Santa Claus to punctuate the importance of the effort. Holiday carols were provided by a group of homeschooled students affiliated with the Faith Center for the Arts.
The toy drive is a joint effort coordinated by Project Self-Sufficiency, along with its partners Charm, The Chatterbox Drive In, iHeartMedia, Inc., Intercar Mercedes Benz, Pass it Along, Selective Insurance Company of America, Service Electric Broadband Cable, the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Sussex Honda, The New Jersey Herald, The Printing Center, and the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots to benefit local families in need. The group aims to gather thousands of new and unwrapped items to distribute to families in need during mid-December.
Greg Murphy, CEO of Selective Insurance Company of America, spoke of the significance of the effort, “Project Self-Sufficiency’s Season of Hope toy shop can help make a child’s Christmas a merry one. Local residents who donate a new, unwrapped toy have the comfort of knowing that they contributed to the joy of children in our own community on what should always be a very special day. That, to me, is the spirit of Christmas we all want to share.”
The annual Season of Hope Toy Drive has served thousands of children in Sussex County for many years. The initiative solicits donations from individuals, businesses, civic organizations, schools, youth groups, athletic teams and other groups throughout November and early December. Area elementary schools, middle schools and high schools will once again be invited to participate in a competitive “Stuff the Stocking” campaign. Last year’s winning school, Green Township, narrowly edged out Newton High School to win the celebratory trophy.
“The Sussex County Schools are glad to participate again in the ‘Stuff the Stocking’ competition,” said Dr. Ken Greene, Newton Superintendent and President of the County Superintendents Association. “Last year this project was so successful in bringing joy to many families. We want our students to be able to experience that again.” Organizers hope to encourage each local school to collect hundreds or even thousands of gift items over the course of the next few weeks.
“We are searching for individuals, youth groups, social service agencies, scouting troop, moms groups, churches and other organizations which will step in and coordinate toy drives on behalf of the low-income families in our area,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “The Season of Hope Toy Drive directly benefits Sussex and Northern Warren County families in need. The items collected here stay right here. It truly is a way for neighbors to help each other during a difficult time of the year.”
Sussex County Freeholder George Graham summed up the significance of the season and the toy drive, saying, “I am honored to support the Season of Hope toy drive on behalf of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Every child deserves that magical moment when they can open up something that is just for them and that is what this toy drive is all about.”
A wish list has been assembled for those who want to contribute, but may be unsure of what to donate. Items needed for teens include electronics, such as calculators, watches, portable music devices, computer games and software, popular CD’s; make-up, perfume, scented lotions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, curling irons; jewelry and accessories; sports equipment and team gear, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats; popular books; clothing and pajamas; and backpacks.
Items sought for younger children include books; legos, blocks and building toys; action figures; DVD’s and CD’s; electronic learning games; infant toys; multicultural dolls and toys; Play Doh; trading and collectible cards; matchbox cars; trendy toys.
In addition, donation of gift cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, gift boxes and stocking stuffers are always appreciated.
Gift items can be dropped off at Project Self-Sufficiency, which is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton, Monday – Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; additional drop-off sites will be added in the coming weeks. Donations are requested by Wednesday, December 16th in order to allow ample time for the items to be distributed to needy families.
For information about the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500 or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.