SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – Since November, local elementary, middle and high schools have participated in a friendly competition to donate toys to the Season of Hope toy drive to benefit children in Sussex and Northern Warren counties. Over the course of three days, a school bus donated by Denise Current of Stocker Bus Company and manned by volunteer drivers, picked up the toys and tallied all of the contents. When the dust settled, the school which donated the most toys was once again Green Hills School, with a whopping total of 422 items. In a unique twist, both second and third place in the contest were tied between two schools a piece; Merriam Avenue School and Newton High School each collected 275 toys, while Kittatinny and Reverend Brown gathered 231 toys.
Beth Voris, Green Hills Language Arts teacher and faculty advisor to the sixth grade student council spearheaded the toy drive on behalf of the school. “It was an honor to be a part of this. Project Self-Sufficiency is an amazing organization.” The student council coordinated a number of efforts to collect toys over the past few months, including an Activities Night with a discounted entry fee if a toy was donated. “Green is an affluent community and I tried to impress upon the students that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. Once December came around, the toys just started rolling in. It was breath-taking to see.” For the second year in a row, Green Hills School will be donating the $250 monetary prize back to the Season of Hope Toy Drive. “This is going to make so many other people’s lives brighter, ease so many burdens and just bring joy,” added Voris. “This is the whole spirit of the holiday. This is what it is all about.”
Stocker Bus Company employee and volunteer bus driver Natalie Gooding brought along her son, Erik, to take part in the collection of toys. “Today is the eleventh anniversary of the passing of my brother, Mark Fisher,” commented Gooding. “We like to honor his memory by focusing on community service.”
Trish Quinn and Rebecca Masoni, serve as Facilitators of the Kids Take Action Club at Reverend George A. Brown School, the club which spearheaded the toy drive at the school. “We have a very generous community,” commented Masoni as she surveyed the mound of toys donated by the children at Reverend Brown.
Schools involved in this year’s competition included Blair Academy, Frankford Township School, Green Hills School, Hardyston Elementary School, Halsted Middle School, Hilltop Country Day School, Kittatinny Regional High School, Merriam Avenue School, Montague Elementary School, Newton High School, Northern Hills Academy, Ogdensburg School, Pope John XXIII High School, Reverend Brown School, Rolling Hills School, Sandyston-Walpack Elementary School, Sparta High School, Sussex Middle School, Valley Road School, and Wantage Elementary School.
Schools which collected more than 100 toys included Frankford Township, Hampton, Hilltop Country Day School, Montague Elementary School, and Sandyston-Walpack. Those who gathered nearly 100 were Pope John, Rolling Hills, and Valley Road.
Project Self-Sufficiency spearheads the Season of Hope Toy Drive with the assistance of local social service agencies, other organizations and businesses. The group includes Charm, the Chatterbox Drive-In, iHeartMedia, Intercar Mercedes Benz, Pass it Along, Selective Insurance Company of America, Service Electric Broadband Cable, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Sussex Honda, The New Jersey Herald, The Printing Center, and Toys for Tots. The toy drive will serve more than 1,800 children this year.
“Having children involved in helping other children to enjoy the holiday season was very important to us,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency, in regard to the Stuff the Stocking contest. “We were very excited to have all of these schools come together in support of the low-income families in our area, and we hope to have even more schools participate next year.”
For information about the services offered by Project Self-Sufficiency, or to make a monetary donation to the Season of Hope Toy Drive, visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.