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Posted on: November 4, 2021

Zipper Junction Project Continues Virtual Holiday Donation Drive — For Now

Flyer promoting the Holiday Donation Drive presented by the Zipper Junction Project.

The Zipper Junction Project, a non-profit concept where trade school meets tourist destination aimed at helping people -- young and old -- find their passion, gears up for the annual holiday gift program to ensure all children in Wayne and Pike Counties receive a present this holiday season.

Jim Zumpone of Supreme Zipper near Hawley, the vision and leadership behind the Zipper Junction Project, said while the virtual Holiday Donation Drive may not be ideal – for the volunteers or the families, it made the most sense back in August when the decision on how to proceed this year had to be made.

Earlier in the summer, Zumpone said it looked like the Holiday Drive could go back to collecting toys and doing a physical distribution, but then the Delta Variant and increasing infections forced their hand. “We have 30 to 50 volunteers over the several months of the program and especially during the distribution days, when there are hundreds of people in close quarters,” he said, noting not everyone was comfortable with that.

He and his volunteers are hopeful this is the last year of the virtual drive. It worked last year, Zumpone explained, “But there was no interaction, no opportunity to teach kids about giving.”

The virtual 2021 Holiday Donation Drive got underway in mid-October, and the online sign up process has not changed, but the interview portion, usually conducted in person, now happens via Zoom. Families can sign up for the program until Nov. 13. 

The biggest changes come for those who support the program since no toys will be collected, only financial contributions. Donors can support the GoFundMe Campaign, use PayPal, send a check or arrange for a cash donation by visiting their website

Zumpone said they would like to receive as many donations and pledges for the program as possible by Nov. 18, but the fundraising will continue until the end of the year.

The early deadlines, for both sign up and financial contributions, stem from the supply chain issues being experienced by most retailers. Zumpone explained that families provide a unique e-mail address in their application, which must be used to unlock the Amazon.com voucher provided by the Holiday Donation Drive.

From the beginning of the virtual version of the gift program, Zumpone and his volunteers decided each child will receive a minimum of $50. The number of children served by the program will be entirely dependent on how much money can be raised in the community. Last year, Zumpone said they raised enough money to provide a $65 voucher for each child who signed up.

“I hope I have enough money for every child who signs up, but we make it clear from the beginning that participation could be limited by the available funding.,” he said, noting he also hopes this is the last year it needs to be virtual and the community can get back to filling those pick-ups at Wayne County Ford with children’s toys.

“It’s exciting to see nine trucks stuffed with toys,” Zumpone said, and it engages the community in a way that the virtual version of the program does not. But a new element of the project, Create to Donate, tries to address that.

The fruit of a partnership with the Community Tapestry Project, Create to Donate allows the community to artistically share holiday messages, insights, tributes, hopes and wishes. The tapestry project encourages people to share the link to their artwork with neighbors, co-workers, family and friends and invite them to consider a donation. There is no cost to submit your photos, paintings, writings and more.

Zumpone said he hopes to use the submissions to promote the holiday gift program in the future.

Zipper Junction Project took over the Holiday Donation (Toy) Drive several years ago as a way to connect this ambitious project to the community and educate people about the proposals’ multi-dimensional, hands-on approach to life-long learning and personal development in a collaborative physical environment.

Zumpone said the leadership had planned to launch a major push to bring Zipper Junction to life in early 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The world moved from face-to-face interaction to virtual connections, but Zipper Junction is envisioned as a physical place that involves physical activity from the trades to fitness and athletics.

“If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that Zipper Junction is needed more than ever,” Zumpone said, adding the pandemic exposed many of the weaknesses that the Zipper Junction Project was conceived to address. The goal is to make people and our community more resilient and capable of managing the inevitable changes on the horizon.

“We need to steer those changes,” he said. “It’s the only way to preserve our quality of life so things don’t happen to us, and we can blast forward while protecting our way of life.”

To learn more about the Zipper Junction Project and the Holiday Donation Drive, including sign up, donate and create, visit www.ZiperJunctionProject.org.

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