Local organizations gear up for annual holiday toy drive

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:07

    With the economy still stagnating and unemployment hovering at 9 percent, many families are wondering how they will provide food and shelter for their loved ones this winter, let alone purchase gifts for the holidays. Enter The Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive, a consortium of local social service agencies and businesses who have banded together to collect toys and other items for low-income families in the area. Led by Project Self-Sufficiency, the group includes Pass it Along, Intercar Mercedes Benz, Sussex Honda, The New Jersey Herald and Mugs Media. Last year the same group collected more than 7,500 items worth more than $30,000 for distribution to Sussex County families in need. Toys were gathered at drop-off sites throughout the county and distributed to low-income families in mid-December. The process involved hundreds of volunteers, donors, and staff members. The effort will be even greater this year. The staggering number of gifts needed this year is a challenge, said Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “Now more than ever, residents of Sussex County are in need of our help. The Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive offers local businesses, civic organizations, churches, and individuals the opportunity to organize toy drives and directly assist families in need. This community has a tradition of being extremely supportive of the low-income families in our area, and we are confident that this year’s Season of Hope Toy Drive will be a success.” Items needed for teens include electronics, such as iPods, MP3 players, calculators, watches, computer games and software, popular CD’s; make-up, perfume, scented lotions, hair dryers, curling irons; jewelry and accessories; sports equipment and team gear, such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats; popular books; clothing and pajamas; backpacks. Items sought for younger children include books; legos, blocks and k’nex toys; action figures; DVDs and CDs; Leap Pad learning games; infant toys; multicultural dolls and toys; Play Doh; trading and collectible cards; matchbox cars; trendy toys. In addition, donation of 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 through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Additional drop-off sites will be added in the coming weeks. Donations are requested by Dec. 12 in order to allow ample time for the items to be distributed to needy families. For more information, 973-940-3500.