Sherri and Lou Cecchini, owners and general managers of Off Shore Marine in Branchville, have been collecting and donating toys to the annual Season of Hope Toy Drive for years.
Usually, they use a towed pontoon boat to deliver their haul to Project Self-Sufficiency, which organizes the drive.
“This year, the usual pontoon boat we use wasn’t big enough to accommodate all of the toys, so we had to pull in a larger vessel,” Lou said, describing their trip Dec. 14 to the Newton nonprofit’s headquarters.
“We both enjoy doing this for the community and look forward to it each year,” he said.
Sherri said, “We started with a small, piddly toy collection back in 2012. Every year, it got a little bigger, and then I met Deb (Deborah Berry-Toon, Project Self-Sufficiency’s executive director) and she gave me a tour of their toy shop.
“That was it. I knew we had to double and triple our efforts, and the next year, we went full out collecting toys so that less fortunate families can put something under the tree for their children.”
The project has become known as “Stuff the Boat.”
It is coordinated by Off Shore Marine in conjunction with members of the fire departments in Branchville, Frankford and Sussex along with the Blue Ridge Rescue Squad, Sussex Fire Department Emergency Medical Service, Sussex Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Sussex Kiwanis Club, Royal Buick GMC of Sussex and Wanderers Car Club.
“Now more than ever we are grateful for this community’s steadfast commitment to our neighbors in need,” Berry-Toon said. “This ongoing collaboration between a local business and area first-responders perfectly demonstrates the true spirit of giving during this holiday season of unprecedented challenges. Thousands of families in our area will be helped by this initiative.”
Off Shore Marine is an authorized, family-owned dealership of Campion, MasterCraft, Mercury Marine, Nautique, SmokerCraft and Sylvan boats. Along with a large selection of new models, the business carries a wide variety of pre-owned boats. It has a full sales, service and parts department and is open six days a week. For information, go online to www.offshoremarinenj.com or call 973-948-7177.
“This ongoing collaboration between a local business and area first-responders perfectly demonstrates the true spirit of giving during this holiday season of unprecedented challenges. Thousands of families in our area will be helped by this initiative.” - Deborah Berry-Toon, executive director, Project Self-Sufficiency