WAYNE COUNTY - Santa Claus will be returning to the Lake Region this holiday season. The founder of the Zipper Junction Project in Lakeville, Jim Zumpone has established The Holiday Toy Drive in collaboration with Wayne County Ford and Bold Gold Media because “somebody had to do it,” he said.  

After learning of the closure of the local Toys for Tots chapter, Zumpone said he was unable to sleep, as he wondered what would happen to the families affected and so, taking on this new endeavor is simply, “what I do.” The Holiday Toy Drive, Zumpone believes fits into his “bigger mission” that is the Zipper Junction Project. For more information about the project visit https://www.zipperjunction.org/. 

The mission, Zumpone explained is underway because he feels people are “very unhappy.” But, happiness starts with children, who must be happy in order to pursue their interests someday, which would lead to a “happier society.”  

And so, looking to the future, if The Holiday Toy Drive is one thing the Zipper Junction project does “going forward,” Zumpone said it’s a way to share the message that, no matter where a person is from, people care and want to help others become “happier individuals.” 

Once he considered what had to be done, Zumpone conversed with his “team” about whether they could arrange for things to happen within weeks he said. Now, in collaboration with Wayne County Ford and Bold Gold Media who have been a part of the trip from the start, Zumpone said The Holiday Toy Drive would not happen if not for his partners. In part, because both companies have been involved in the toy drive concept for years and so that, he believes to be an “integral part of the process in Wayne County.” 

With the support of the Bold Gold Radio crew, information about The Holiday Toy Drive will run on 12 stations, Zumpone said. Since this new endeavor is not a chapter, not all of Pike and Wayne counties will be covered as there are other organizations collecting too.  

Around Pike and Wayne counties there are more than 100 boxes for toys. Before the start of his new venture, Zumpone learned that organizations that include the Salvation Army and Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau had become overcome by families seeking support, with 400 children needing gifts. Toys for Tots in the Lake Region last year, Zumpone said served 3,200 children and so now, “we’re trying to fill the void.” 

The Holiday Toy Drive, Zumpone said is pretty much the same as Toys for Tots, but with a new name and is not part of a national organization. It will function similarly with collection boxes in various locations. People can also go online to make a monetary donation or mail in their support. 

While a team has been established, more volunteers are needed, especially for distribution days. The team currently consist of family, friends and members of community organizations. Zumpone is hoping for 30 people on site for three days during distribution days. 

Distribution will happen from a location in Hawley. As of yet, Zumpone wouldn’t reveal the home of The Holiday Toy Drive. 

There are “minimum requirements” Zumpone said, which are comparable to a family who is eligible for free lunch or assistance in the state or county. The community, Zumpone is hopeful will continue to be just as supportive as in years past, such as last year over 30,000 items were donated to the local Toys for Tots. The reality though, is that The Holiday Toy Drive will be, “as successful as the community rallies around it.” 

For those who want to give toys, Zumpone said children ages zero to three years of age as well as teenagers must be remembered because children in between those ages, tend to be the focus of many gifts. The Holiday Toy Drive will give to teens as old as 18 years of age, since the young adults work and are in high school, so they are “just as needy as younger kids.” Once the toys start to come in, the plan is to remind the public what items are needed through the help of Bold Gold Media. 

The website, http://www.zipperjunction.org/HolidayToyDrive/ Zumpone believes is a “one stop kind of shop” where people can find where to donate or how to apply for assistance. 

Although he is not originally from the Lake Region, Zumpone has learned that since Toys for Tots is a national organization with local chapters, it always ran under “national protocol” with a regular operating system he said. But, Zumpone stressed The Holiday Toy Drive is happening because of “local folks” and is “for local folks.”

The Holiday Toy Drive, Zumpone said is about more than Christmas because of the many celebrations that occur throughout the holiday season. As a child, more than receiving, Zumpone enjoyed giving and as an adult, if he is able to help a child, that will make for a “nice Christmas.

For more information about The Holiday Toy Drive visit http://www.zipperjunction.org/HolidayToyDrive/.  

See the website for updates to the full list of drop-off sites for The Holiday Toy Drive. These were listed, as of November 15.

Hawley/Lake Wallenpaupack area:

Boat House Restaurant
Cora’s 1850 Bistro
Deli Central
Dollar General – Hawley
General Store
Mike’s Auto Service
Mike’s Pizzera, Lakeville
Penny Lane
Pocono Mountain Licensing – Amy DMV
Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau – Lake Wallenpaupack
The Dime Bank – Hawley
The Dime Bank – Lake Region Branch
The Dock Restaurant
Trish’s bagels
Fluff’s Deli.

Honesdale Area

Aaron’s Stores
B & B Dodge
Baer Sports Center
Black & Brass Coffee Company
Dollar General – Honesdale
Fins and Feathers Inc.
Sawmill Cycles
TechPro PCS
The Cooperage Project
Trackside Grill
Visible Changes
WLA – Wayne County Public Library – Honesdale
Wayne County Ford

Lakewood Area

WLA – Northern Wayne Community Library (Lakewood)
Pleasant Mount Area

WLA – Pleasant Mount Public Library
White Mills Area

The Sports Factory of NEPA