NEWTON, NJ - Local elementary, middle schools and high schools have entered a friendly competition to donate toys to the Season of Hope toy drive to benefit children in Sussex and Northern Warren counties.  The toy shop will serve over 1,000 families and over 1,600 children and teens this December. 

A decorated school bus will swoop down on each school in mid-December and cart the items away for distribution to local families.  The winning school will receive a monetary contribution toward its activities fund, along with a trophy which will have to be defended the following year. 

Runners up will also receive monetary contributions.  Schools involved in the competition include:

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  • Blair Academy,
  • Clifton E. Lawrence School,
  • Frankford Township School,
  • Fredon Township School,
  • Green Hills School,
  • Hardyston Elementary School,
  • Halsted Middle School,
  • Kittatinny Regional High School,
  • Lenape Valley Regional High School,
  • Marian E. McKeown Elementary School,
  • Merriam Avenue School,
  • Montague Elementary School,
  • Newton High School,
  • Northern Hills Academy,
  • Ogdensburg School,
  • Pope John XXIII High School,
  • Reverend Brown School,
  • Rolling Hills School,
  • Sandyston-Walpack Elementary School,
  • Sparta High School,
  • Sparta Middle School,
  • Sussex Middle School,
  • Valley Road School,
  • Vernon Township High School, and
  • Wantage Elementary School. 

Organizers hope to encourage each local school to collect hundreds or even thousands of gift items over the course of the next few weeks.

The toy drive is a joint effort coordinated by Project Self-Sufficiency, along with its partners: 

  • Charm,
  • The Chatterbox Drive In,
  • iHeartMedia, Inc.,
  • Intercar Mercedes Benz,
  • Pass it Along,
  • Selective Insurance Company of America,
  • Service Electric Broadband Cable,
  • the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce,
  • Sussex Honda,
  • The New Jersey Herald,
  • The Printing Center, and
  • the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots to benefit local families in need. 

The group aims to gather thousands of new and unwrapped items to distribute to families in need during mid-December. 

Local Girl Scout Ruby Esposito has initiated a complementary toy drive, Project Toys 4 Teens, in pursuit of her Gold Award.  Esposito will be visiting local schools with the aim of inspiring her fellow students to make contributions to the Season of Hope Toy Drive. 

“Through Girl Scouts I have volunteered for Project Self-Sufficiency and worked at the Season of Hope Toy Shop,” she explains.  “Every year there is a great amount of toys collected for toddlers and middle school children.  However, there is a lack of teen toys and I feel that I can make a difference.” 

“Having children involved in helping other children to enjoy the holiday season is very important to us,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “We are very excited to have all of these individual schools come together in support of the low-income families in our area, and we are particularly grateful to Ruby Esposito for her dedication to this effort.”

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 to Thursday, from 9 a.m. through 8 p.m. or Friday, 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. 

Monetary donations to the drive can be made at www.projectselfsufficiency.org.  Toy donations are requested by December 16 in order to allow ample time for the items to be distributed to needy families.   For more information, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500, or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.