Newton, NJ

Earth Angels Initiative Seeks Holiday Donations for Seniors

Project Self-Sufficiency
Gift bags are assembled for distribution to local senior citizens as part of Project Self-Sufficiency's Earth Angels initiative.Project Self-Sufficiency

Project Self-Sufficiency is currently seeking monetary donations and gift cards to local stores to be distributed to senior citizens as part of the agency’s Earth Angels initiative. During mid-December, students in the New Jersey Youth Corps high school diploma program at Project Self-Sufficiency will stuff festive bags with the cards and gifts; the items will be delivered by volunteers and Project Self-Sufficiency staff to homebound seniors during the week leading up to Christmas.

Along with monetary contributions, the agency is seeking the donation of gift cards from local retailers, including Kohl’s, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Wal-Mart, Weis and the hair salons at the Homestead and Liberty Towers senior residences.

Newton attorney Elenora L. Benz, Esquire, originated the Earth Angels program in 1999 by enlisting the support of her staff member Mary Jones, along with clients, business colleagues, and community volunteers. The initiative was taken over by Project Self-Sufficiency in 2017. Although most Earth Angels recipients reside in Newton’s Liberty Towers and Frankford’s Homestead, senior citizens in other parts of the county have been added every year as the program expanded.

“The Earth Angels program gives us the opportunity to demonstrate compassion for those in our community who may feel overlooked or forgotten during the busy rush of the holiday season,” comments Project Self-Sufficiency Executive Director Deborah Berry-Toon. “Our vulnerable seniors need our support and we are extremely gratified by the outpouring of concern shown by those who donate to this valuable service year after year.”

“Project Self-Sufficiency has given me warmth, kindness, good feelings, and made my Christmases the best I have ever had,” remarked Dianne Cironi upon receiving the Earth Angels bag stuffed with gifts.

Monetary donations can be made online at or by making out a check to “Project Self-Sufficiency” and indicating “Earth Angels” on the memo line. Donations of checks and gift cards can be dropped off at Project Self-Sufficiency, 127 Mill Street, Newton. To register to receive gifts from the Earth Angels program, or to find out more information, call Alice Prendergast at Project Self-Sufficiency, 973-940-3500.

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Project Self-Sufficiency is a community-based non-profit organization which specializes in services for low-income families in northwestern New Jersey. Programs offered at Project Self-Sufficiency include family literacy education, computer training and job placement services, assistance with parenting skills, childcare, counseling and advocacy, referrals, and help with emergency basic needs. To donate or for more information about the programs and services offered by Project Self-Sufficiency, visit or call 973-940-3500.

Newton, NJ

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Area Schools Collected Record Number of Toys in Friendly Competition

Students from the Pope John Middle School and the Stuff the Stocking trophy.Project Self-Sufficiency. Students from a record-breaking 38 schools in Sussex and Northern Warren Counties spent the last few weeks of 2021 collecting more than 7,500 new, unwrapped toys in a friendly Stuff the Stocking competition to benefit Project Self-Sufficiency’s Season of Hope Toy Drive. Each year, the winning school takes home the coveted Stuff the Stocking trophy, along with a monetary donation to their school’s activity fund. Second and third place winners also receive monetary donations for their schools. Pope John XXIII Middle School was the victor in the 2021 contest, with more than 1,000 toys collected. Returning champion Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School tied with the Hardyston Middle School for second place. Additional honors went to Longest Running Stocking Stuffer Hilltop Country Day School, Most Consistent Stocking Stuffer Green Hills School, and Most Spirited Stocking Stuffer North Warren Regional. Rookie Stocking Stuffer of the Year went to first-time participant Oxford Central School. Local schools which collected more than 100 toys included Byram Intermediate School, Franklin Elementary School, Frelinghuysen Elementary School, High Point Regional High School, Newton High School, Pope John High School, Sparta Township Middle School, Stillwater Elementary School, Sussex Technical School, and Vernon Township High School.

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