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Sussex County Church Supports Toy Drive for Local Families

Lisa Pachnos

Monday, December 9, 2013 • 3:41pm

BRANCHVILLE, NJ-Parishioners of all ages at Our Lady Queen of Peace, a Roman Catholic Church located in Branchville, has supported the Season of Hope Toy Drive on behalf of low-income Sussex County children for years.  According to Nancy Fernandez, Coordinator of Religious Education at the church, the entire parish gets involved in the annual effort to gather toys for Sussex County families in need. 

“It all starts with the children in our grammar school, and the whole parish works on it together.”  The Season of Hope toy drive is a joint effort coordinated by Project Self-Sufficiency, Pass it Along, The New Jersey Herald, Clear Channel Radio, Mugs Media, 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. 

The effort by the parishioners at Our Lady, Queen of Peace, spans multiple generations, with elementary school-aged children creating ornaments for their Christmas Giving Tree, high school children gathering and tagging gifts, and parents and grandparents involved in purchasing new and unwrapped gifts for the toy drive.  There are 110 elementary school students and 40 high school students involved in the project.  Once the toys have been delivered to Project Self-Sufficiency, high school students from the church even assist patrons at the toy shop with selecting gifts.  “Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, young and old, prepare for the coming of Christ during the Advent season by practicing what Father Bill (Stober) teaches in his weekly homilies. They prepare by being Christ and bringing Christ to the needy families of Sussex County,” comments Fernandez.

“We are very thankful to the parishioners at Our Lady, Queen of Peace, in Branchville for supporting the Season of Hope toy drive year after year,” 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.  This church sets a wonderful example of how neighbors can help each other during a difficult time of the year.”

For those who want to contribute to the toy drive, but may be unsure of what to donate, a wish list has been developed.  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 through Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. until  8:00 p.m., Friday, 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; additional drop-off sites can be found on the agency’s website.  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.

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