Shopping spree for parents in need

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:43

Two non-profits team to provided donated gifts to county families Newton — Two county non-profit groups teamed up to bring the holidays to Sussex County residents in need. Pass It Along and Project Self-Sufficiency opened the doors to their Holiday Toy Shop on Dec. 16, inviting eligible residents to shop for toys, books, sports equipment, jewelry, stuffed animals, clothing and bedding. County agencies referred approximately 650 residents to the toy shop, parents of about 1,470 children in need from across the county, with gifts for all ages, from babies to teens. Residents streamed out of the door at Project Self-Sufficiency's Newton location, waiting for the opportunity to enter in to the toy store. The store was open on Friday and Saturday, and Deborah Berry-Toon, Project Self-Sufficiency's Executive Director, anticipated families not registered and some who did not hear, to also come. "The big part of the story is the generosity of the families and the corporations giving the gifts," Berry-Toon said on Friday. The Community Education Center at Project Self-Sufficiency was transformed into the shop, with gift items piled high for parents to choose from. Area residents had donated more than 9,300 items. There was additionally a room filled with higher ticket items, like bicycles, a Kindle, an iPod and a Coach purse, which the families could enter to win, on top of items at the toy shop. While parents shopped, small children stayed and played in the Little Sprouts Early Learning Center. Each parent shopping was eligible to take home three items per child, plus a stuffed animal, board game or book. After checking out from the toy room, each parent was given a roll of wrapping paper, a gift of homemade gingerbread cookies, and could pick up packs of new bedsheets and pillows. "This is what the community did, it does take a village," said Diane Taylor, president & CEO of Pass It Along. Pass It Along ran the Holiday Toy Shop on their own for seven years before teaming up with Project Self-Sufficiency for the first time last year. Taylor said Project Self-Suffiency offers the service component to county residents to bring lasting change. She said she could not imagine the difficulty the families would experience without the toy shop. "I just want to personally thank the whole community, they are generous givers," Taylor said. For more information about Pass it along, see or call 973-726-9777. For Project Self-Sufficiency, or 973-940-3500.