Toys for Christmas Will Be Collected at Project Self-Sufficiency

“Project Self-Sufficiency is in the business of smiles,” said Sussex County freeholder Sylvia Petillo at the launch of PSS’s Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive on Friday, October 26. “Christmas smiles are a little brighter and a little bigger and they last all year long,” she added.

Freeholder Sylvia Petillo talks about the years when she was mayor of Hopatcong and saw Project Self-Sufficiency help residents. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

The annual Season of Hope Toy Drive solicits donations from individuals, businesses, civic organizations, schools, youth groups, athletic teams, and others throughout November and early December. Schools are invited to participate in a competitive “Stuff the Stocking” campaign, helping children to learn the significance of their generosity. Haley McCracken, program coordinator at PSS, reported that 20 schools competed last year to gather the most toys.

Deborah Berry-Toon, executive director of PSS, described the toy drive as a way for families to feel love and compassion. “We want families who haven’t been here before to come,” she said, noting that Jefferson is one of the communities where neighbors help neighbors. “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.”

Haley McCracken shows off the trophy to be presented for the most toys donated by a school. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Wish Lists

Donations can be dropped off by Wednesday, December 13, at Project Self-Sufficiency (127 Mill Street, Newton). The office is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9-8 and Fridays from 9-4. The following wish lists provide suggestions for donors.

Teens: electronics (calculators, watches, portable music devices, computer games and software, popular CDs), make-up, perfume, scented lotions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, curling irons, jewelry, accessories, sports equipment, team gear (T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats), popular books, clothing, pajamas, backpacks.

Younger children: books, Legos, blocks, building toys, action figures, DVDs, CDs, electronic learning games, infant toys, multicultural dolls and toys, Play-Doh, trading and collectible cards, matchbox cars, trendy toys.

In addition, the following items are always appreciated: gift cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, gift boxes, stocking stuffers.


The Season of Hope Toy Drive partners with the U. S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots out of Picatinny Arsenal. First Sergeant Eduardo Ascencio said that more than 100 organizations participated last year.

Sergeant Eduardo Ascencio talks about Toys for Tots. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Another partner is Operation Toy Train. Albert Mellini, president of the Military Transport Association, reported that the train collected 27,000 toys last year. Five railroads donate time, trains, and fuel to the cause. At the recently renovated Sparta Train Station from 1881, the train delivers toys that have been collected at various stops. Katelyn Leondi of the Sparta Train Station said that 17,734 toys were off-loaded last year from the train onto five trucks and brought to PSS. Collection boxes are also brought to Picatinny.

Al Mellini describes Operation Toy Train. (Photo: Jane Primerano)
Katelyn Leondi talks about events at the Sparta Train Station. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Other partners in the Season of Hope are First Hope Bank, Gravity DesignWorks, iHeartMedia, Intercar Mercedes Benz, New Jersey Herald, Off Shore Marine, Pass It Along, The Printing Center, Selective Insurance Company of America, Service Electric Broadband Cable, Sparta Train Station, Stocker Bus Company, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, and Sussex Honda.

Harmony in Motion, an all-female a cappella singing group, brought the Season of Hope launch event to a harmonious conclusion.

Some of the Harmony in Motion singers perform for PSS. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

For additional information about the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive, call 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500 or visit

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