HONESDALE, Pa. -- Hundreds of children from Wayne and Pike Counties will benefit from a toy drive that wrapped up this week.
It's become a holiday tradition at Wayne County Ford to fill the trucks in their showroom with toys for kids in need. This was the 11th year the dealership challenged the community, and they answered in record-setting numbers.
"We had eight trucks in the showroom. We couldn't fit a ninth, but we had the equivalent of nine truckloads. There as a whole pile next to one of the trucks that would've filled a whole other truck," said sales manager Roger Kowalski.
Toys for Tots used to be in charge of the drive in Wayne and Pike Counties until three years ago. That's when the Zipper Junction Project stepped in.
"We wound up creating the program, 'The Holiday Toy Drive' from scratch. We did it within Pike and Wayne Counties for Pike and Wayne Counties. We did not go with the Toys for Tots model per se. We created something much more hyper-local," said founder Jim Zumpone.
Families applied in October to be selected to receive toys for their kids. In all, about 725 kids will benefit from the donations.
"We have guides that will guide them through the whole process, and it's basically like if anyone has been to Ikea, it's very much like that where there's one way in and one way out and they have to travel through this snaking store that we built, and they get to select a predetermined number of gifts for each child based on how many the community donated," Zumpone explained.
There are some big-ticket items that were donated like bicycles and an oversized teddy bear. While there's not enough for each kid to go home with, there will be a very merry Christmas in the cart full of toys that they receive.
"If we have x number, we divide it by 700 based on age and value, and everybody gets the same amount according to their age safety category. Every toy has an age on it, and that's what we go by. If it's good for 3 and up, 6 and up, 10 and up. Then they go through the whole thing, select for each child with a shopping cart, they come all the way through and select stocking stuffers, they select raffle items then we bag them all up and out they go," Zumpone added.
The toys will be distributed to the families chosen this weekend.