Newton, NJ (November 1, 2021) – The annual Season of Hope Toy Drive was launched by Project Self-Sufficiency and a consortium of businesses, schools, and social service agencies today. The massive undertaking aims to provide gift cards and new, unwrapped toys to parents and caregivers of more than 2,000 children and teens in the New Jersey counties of Sussex and Northern Warren.
Season of Hope Toy Drive to Benefit Children in Northwestern New Jersey
The toy drive is a joint effort which is driven and coordinated by Project Self-Sufficiency, along with its community partners, to benefit local families in need. Donations are needed immediately and can be made in-person at the Newton agency. Additional toy drop off sites throughout the area will be added shortly. Monetary donations are also accepted online.
“We are searching for individuals, youth groups, social service agencies, scouting troops, moms’ groups, churches, and other organizations which will step in and coordinate gift card and 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 this extraordinarily challenging time.”
The annual Season of Hope Toy Drive has served thousands of children and teens in northwestern New Jersey 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.
“Each year during the holidays, the Season of Hope campaign helps bring joy and happiness to thousands of disadvantaged children. I am always pleased to take part in such an enriching and joyful event,” said New Jersey State Senator Steve Oroho. “As we are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, so too have many children’s lives not returned to what they were in 2019. Because of this, I hope those who are able can contribute this year to bring much good cheer and smiles to many needy children and their families."
"Christmas is always an exciting time at Project Self-Sufficiency, where the spirit of Santa Claus sweeps across the county creating a sense of wonder and hope for children of all ages,” Sussex County Commissioner Sylvia Petillo added. “Thanks to the overwhelming donations from our community, Christmas morn for countless families will be bursting with giggles, smiles, thankfulness, and love."
Area elementary schools, middle schools and high schools have been invited to participate in a competitive “Stuff the Stocking” campaign. Toys are picked up and counted in early December; 29 schools have registered to date, a slight decline from previous years which organizers attribute to the impact of the on-going public health crisis.
“The Season of Hope Toy Drive brings excitement to our schools by seeing which school can collect the most toys,” explains Mike Ryder, Hardyston School District Chief School Administrator. “But the real excitement comes from a child's joy at receiving that special toy, it comes from a child's belief in holiday magic, and it comes from a child knowing that they live in a community that cares for one another.”
The Season of Hope Toy Shop benefits from the talents of hundreds of musicians each year; music for the kick-off press conference was provided by Harmony in Motion. Normally, individuals and ensembles perform holiday tunes in multiple locations on the PSS campus throughout the duration of the two-day toy shop in December. Due to current public health restrictions, patrons will not be allowed inside the buildings this year, so shoppers will be entertained by a hybrid of livestreamed and previously recorded performances by ensembles and individual musicians.
“The pandemic has upended business as usual for our day-to-day operations and the Season of Hope Toy Drive has also had to be significantly modified to comply with social distancing guidelines and other factors,” explains Project Self-Sufficiency Executive Director Deborah Berry-Toon. “Traditionally, the toy shop is operated during a 2-day period in mid-December and welcomes the assistance of hundreds of volunteers, law enforcement personnel, and musicians as we help thousands of parents select toys for their children. Under the current circumstances, the toy shop will now have to operate during November and December and public health guidelines prohibit the presence of numerous staff and volunteers on site. Therefore, we are asking that donations of funds, gift cards, and toys be received by early December.”
Donated items can be dropped off at Project Self-Sufficiency, 127 Mill Street in Newton, Monday – Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. For information about the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500 or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.
The Season of Hope Toy Drive to benefit thousands of children and teens in Sussex and Northern Warren counties kicked off at Project Self-Sufficiency.
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