NEWTON, NJ - Hundreds of Sussex County families will be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey with all of the trimmings this year, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and individuals who donated mountains of food for Project Self-Sufficiency participants this November.  Agency staff and volunteers gathered hundreds of frozen turkeys, along with fresh produce, cans of cranberry sauce, vegetables, stuffing mix, dinner rolls, and freshly-baked pies. 

“The generosity of our friends and neighbors towards Project Self-Sufficiency participants is deeply appreciated during the holiday season,” said Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “We have a lot to be thankful for this year.”

Fresh produce was donated by John Mathews of Hinkley Auto Sales.  The auto dealership refurbished and sold a used car donated by local resident Irene Bitsko, using the proceeds to purchase 1,540 pounds of potatoes, apples, carrots and onions from local purveyor Al Kasharian of Kash’s Farm.  “I admire the work that Project Self-Sufficiency does getting people back on their feet, facing forward and marching on,” said Matthews as he supervised the unloading of the produce.

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The Youth Group from the First Presbyterian Church of Newton donated 260 homemade pies to the Thanksgiving feast.  Other major contributions came from the Appalachian Bowmen; the Mars Associates Services; the Newton High School Interact Club; and an ad hoc group of men known loosely as the College of Knowledge which donated 175 turkeys to the effort.  Roy Knutsen, a member of the College of Knowledge, said, “We’re just a good group of guys who try to help locally.  We’ve been getting together for about ten years.  We have breakfast at the Fredon Diner and we raise funds for local organizations.”  The group has supported everything from baseball teams to the local fire department. 

Gena Tallarico, R.N., headed up a group of a dozen volunteers from Mars Associates Services, who spent the day organizing over 200 bags of Thanksgiving food items to be distributed to needy families.  “Mars Associates Services allows associates to dedicate one day a year to a cause and volunteer their time.  We dedicated our day to helping Project Self-Sufficiency with getting their bags ready for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We sorted food and got it all arranged.  We really enjoyed our time, it was a great day of community and we appreciate the opportunity.”

To find out more about the programs and services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500 or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.