For the seventeenth year in a row, the students at the Hilltop Country Day School in Sparta have contributed new, unwrapped toys to the Season of Hope Toy Drive.  Years ago, the private school began its donation odyssey with a collection of new hats and mittens by students enrolled in the preschool.  Now the entire school joins in the effort, which yields an enormous toy box filled to the brim with gifts for children in Sussex and Northern Warren Counties.  The Season of Hope Toy Drive is a consortium of local social service agencies and businesses spearheaded by Project Self-Sufficiency.  The group also includes Charm, the Chatterbox Drive-In, iHeartMedia, Intercar Mercedes Benz, Pass it Along, Selective Insurance Company of America, Skylands Stadium, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Sussex Honda, The New Jersey Herald, The Printing Center, and Toys for Tots.  Organizers hope to collect more than 20,000 items for distribution to low-income Sussex and northern Warren County families in mid-December. 


The toy drive at the Hilltop Country Day School is coordinated by preschool teacher Christine DeStefano along with Michael Umstead, Science Teacher and Faculty Advisor for the Student Council.  “The focus of the whole school is on community service,” noted Christine, who originated the idea for the drive amongst the preschool children twenty years ago.  “We wanted to help children within the community and for the first three years, we collected mittens, hats and gloves.  The involvement of the older children is what has brought this drive to what it is today.”

Sign Up for E-News


“We could not be more pleased with the effort by the children and families at Hilltop Country Day School.  Year after year, this school has collected wonderful gifts for local children in need,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “They have given the gift of hope to families who may be less fortunate than themselves.”


Those who wish to contribute to the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive are encouraged to drop off a new, unwrapped toy at Project Self-Sufficiency.  Gift items will be gratefully received at Project Self-Sufficiency, which is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton, Monday – Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. or Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Additional drop-off sites can be viewed on the Project Self-Sufficiency website,  For more information, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500, or visit