NEWTON, NJ - Sussex County Freeholder Richard Vohden and his wife Faith are leading the annual Season of Hope Toy Drive on behalf of Sussex County children.  The toy drive is a joint effort coordinated by Project Self-Sufficiency, Pass it Along, The New Jersey Herald, Clear Channel Radio, Intercar Mercedes Benz and Sussex Honda to benefit local families in need.  The group aims to gather approximately 10,000 toys for distribution to thousands of low-income families during December. 

“My wife, Faith, and I are proud to again be a part of this effort to bring holiday spirit to the less fortunate children in our community.  Working together we can all help Santa Claus make this a memorable Christmas for these kids in these tough times,” said Vohden.

The annual Season of Hope Toy Drive has served thousands of children in Sussex County for many years.  The initiative solicits donations from individuals, businesses, civic organizations, youth groups, athletic teams and other groups throughout November and early December. 

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This year, area elementary schools, middle schools and high schools will also be asked to participate in a competitive “Stuff the Stocking” campaign, similar in scope to the popular “Stuff the Bus” effort which has successfully filled the shelves at the Sussex County Board of Social Services food pantry during the past few years.  “We are looking forward to working with the Sussex County schools to gather toys for children from low-income families in our area,” added Freeholder Vohden.  Organizers hope to encourage each local school to collect hundreds or even thousands of gift items over the course of the next few weeks.

“We are searching for individuals, youth groups, social service agencies, scouting troop, moms groups, churches and other organizations which will step in and coordinate toy drives on behalf of the low-income families in our area,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “The Season of Hope Toy Drive is the only toy drive that directly benefits Sussex County families in need.  The items collected here stay right here.  It truly is a way for neighbors to help each other during a difficult time of the year.”

A wish list has been assembled for those who want to contribute, but may be unsure of what to donate.  Items needed for teens include electronics,  such as calculators, watches, portable music devices, computer games and software, popular CD’s; make-up, perfume, scented lotions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, curling irons; jewelry and accessories; sports equipment and team gear, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats; popular books; clothing and pajamas; backpacks.                                                       

Items sought for younger children include books; legos, blocks and k’nex toys; action figures; DVD’s and CD’s; electronic learning games; infant toys; multicultural dolls and toys; Play Doh; trading and collectible cards; matchbox cars; trendy toys. 

In addition, donation of gift cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, gift boxes and stocking stuffers are always appreciated.

Gift items can be dropped off at Project Self-Sufficiency, which is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton, Monday – Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; additional drop-off sites will be added in the coming weeks.  Donations are requested by December 16th in order to allow ample time for the items to be distributed to needy families. 

For information about the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500 or visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.