Over the weekend, thousands of families received free toys and gifts for their children at the Season of Hope Toy Shop operated at Project Self-Sufficiency. The effort involved hundreds of volunteers who assisted patrons, provided music and helped with traffic. Local law enforcement officials from the state and county joined forces in a unique collaboration to ensure the safety of volunteers and patrons, noted Newton Police Chief Mike Richards, who oversaw the coordinated effort.
“Over the years, the toy shop has grown and there have been issues with traffic, access and security,” explains Richards. “We started staging vehicles at Sussex County Community College and letting them down 10 – 12 at a time. We have law enforcement officers on site, from 6am – 9pm on Friday, and 6am – 3pm on Saturday. This is more than the Newton police department can provide. Since there are residents from all over Sussex County who are coming here, I reached out to my colleagues and received an overwhelming response from other departments who were willing to help. You will see that type of cooperation and community spirit across the county.” Officers from the police departments in Andover, Sparta, Newton, Ogdensburg, as well as the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office and the New Jersey State Police were on site during the toy shop. “How well we work together may be unique to Sussex County. It’s nice to see the younger officers from other departments because it’s a good community event that’s so helpful to people. There’s a lot of good spirit and positive interaction with the public which is good for officers to experience.”
The Season of Hope Toy Drive is a joint effort coordinated by Project Self-Sufficiency, along with its partners First Hope Bank, Gravity DesignWorks, iHeartMedia, Inc., Intercar Mercedes Benz, Off Shore Marine, Pass it Along, The Printing Center, The New Jersey Herald, Selective Insurance Company of America, Service Electric Broadband Cable, Sparta Train Station, Stocker Bus Company, the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Sussex County Community College, Sussex Honda, and the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. New, unwrapped toys and gift are provided to children in need from Sussex County, as well as residents of Northern Morris and Warren Counties.
“The Season of Hope Toy Shop is a large-scale event which stretches over numerous days and the number of families served here increases every year,” comments Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “We are exceptionally grateful to Newton Police Chief Mike Richards and all of the law enforcement personnel who gave freely of their time and expertise to coordinate the flow of traffic and to ensure the safety of our patrons and volunteers.”
Information about the Season of Hope Toy Drive and the programs and services available at Project Self-Sufficiency are available at or by calling 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500.