Volunteering is important to the members of the Newton Police Department, many of whom step up to assist patrons at the Season of Hope toy shop at Project Self-Sufficiency each December. Officers direct traffic, assist with crowd control and other issues so that participants can have an enjoyable shopping experience. The Season of Hope toy shop offers free new and unwrapped toys to income-eligible families each year.
“Any time you can give back as a public servant it is important, especially when it involves the youth of our community,” remarked Lieutenant Robert Osborn. “Project Self-Sufficiency is an unbelievable organization, and we try to do anything we can to help them, especially around the holidays when we have the opportunity to help people who may less fortunate than ourselves.”
The officers work in shifts of several hours in length. Lieutenant Mark Zappa has volunteered with the effort for four years. “We assist with security, with crowd control and with parking. We just make sure that everyone complies with the rules. We all signed up to volunteer. The guys do it because it is important to give back and help out the community.”
The officers also give back by donating toys. The local chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, Sussex County’s largest and oldest law enforcement organization, contributed $600 worth of gifts for infants, pre-teens and teens this year, according to Lieutenant Zappa. “In the past we have given money, but this year the members went out and bought toys. It was fun.” The organization includes officers from police departments in Byram, Newton, Stanhope and Hamburg, as well as representatives from the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office.
“The presence of the officers from the Newton Police Department makes a world of difference at the Season of Hope toy shop each year,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “We are so grateful to the entire department for their support of the low-income families served by this toy drive, and we deeply appreciate their willingness to volunteer their time to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience while they are here.”
Donations to the Season of Hope Toy Drive will be accepted through the end of December. New and unwrapped gifts for infants, children, pre-teens and teens will be stored and used for the toy shop next December. To make a donation, or to find out more about the Season of Hope Toy Drive, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500 or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.