BY SHERI TRUSTY
For 60 years, the Ottawa County Holiday Bureau has been making Christmas brighter for area families. The bureau was founded by the late Esther Sutton, whose philanthropy still impacts the community years after her death.
The Holiday Bureau has evolved over the years, and today it runs through a collaborative effort with the Salvation Army of Ottawa County. The joint effort makes it possible to provide food, toys and toiletries to hundreds of families each year.
When COVID-19 precautions made personal pickups of food impossible, the Holiday Bureau offered food certificates instead. Those changes remain in place today and serve as a practical way to assist families while supporting local grocery stores at the same time.
The Ottawa County Holiday Bureau is separated into four units, and each unit provides gift certificates to local grocery stores. Depending on where they live, recipients are given gift certificates to either Miller’s New Market in Genoa, Community Markets in Oak Harbor, Mutach’s Food Market or Erie Food Market in Danbury Township, or Bassett’s Market in Port Clinton.
“They’re local, so they’re easy for people to get to,” said Ottawa County Holiday Bureau President Bonnie Kaspar.
When families fill out applications for Holiday Bureau assistance, the names of families with children ages birth through 12 are shared with the Salvation Army, which handles toy collection and distribution. Toy collection is made possible through a partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots campaign.
“All of the toys collected in Ottawa County boxes stay here in the county,” said Kami Sayre, Director at Salvation Army Port Clinton Service Center. “We’ll take any kind of toy, however, we are in dire straits for gifts for kids over eight.”
Gift ideas for older kids include Legos, games for electronic gaming systems, and makeup kits. Gift certificates are also welcome.
The Salvation Army also collects warm weather gear, and Sayre said she is in need of larger size coats.
“I’m totally out of larger sizes,” she said.
The Holiday Bureau and Salvation Army welcome financial donations to help them help those in need in the community.
Financial donations to Ottawa County Holiday Bureau can be sent to 12154 W. State Rt. 105, Oak Harbor, OH 43449. Monetary donations for toys can also be sent to the Salvation Army at 1834 East Perry St., Port Clinton, OH 43452. Write “toys” in the memo line.