Holiday assistance program gets underway
New changes reflect COVID effects on community
Sylvania News

Sylvania City and Township’s main holiday assistance program gets underway this week, but with a new look for the 2020 season of giving.

“With everything that’s going on, it’s just impossible to do things the same way we’ve always done it in the past,”  says Dottie Segur, Executive Director of Sylvania Area Family Services (SAFS). 

For the holiday season, normally SAFS goes through the Sylvania Schools first, and offers the assistance to families on the free or reduced lunch program.  Then other families with older children, individuals, and seniors in need are put on the list and then families are “adopted out,” meaning matched up with donors, and then the donors purchase gifts and food and gift cards.

This year, however, because of the effects of COVID 19, SAFS is working on a system to safely serve everyone’s needs, including the donors.

“We decided to just have the donors purchase gift cards for the families. That way the family can do a lot of online shopping, or go get the items themselves,” explains Segur.  “It’s a lot easier than having all the donors with gifts come in, and then the families come in.  It’s just too many people in the building at one time.”

For the 2019 holiday season, SAFS adopted out 221 families.  Since then, the non-profit has had a steady increase of 25-30% more families so far this year. 

“It’s quite a bit.  We're not turning anybody away that comes in,” says Segur. “Yesterday we had our food distribution and we had roughly 120 families come through to get food and personal care items”

Segur says that SAFS will be sending out letters to previous donors this week, most of whom have donated for years.

“We’ll be explaining the new way the program will run,” says Segur.  “Then we’ll get an idea of how the donors will react. I really hope they’ll be understanding.”  

The donor list consists of churches and business and individual families, and organizations such as the firefighter’s union. 

Also new this year for fundraising is The Sylvania Shop, an online store with gifts, merchandise, and seasonal items.  The Sylvania-based store allows individuals to shop from the safety and comfort of home, while at the same time supporting Sylvania businesses and the holiday charity programs.  The Sylvania Shop is at two locations on the web, and


“I don’t think we’ve ever had a haunted fundraiser” she laughed.  “But it sounds like a lot of fun.”

The underlying message of the new online store is “Shop Local, Shop Sylvania, Support Sylvania,” and the online Grand Opening is Wednesday September 9.  

The SAFS families that are adopted out will receive their holiday assistance around Thanksgiving and then also in December.  Assistance is offered to families of all faiths.

“I’ve been here 18 years, and we’ve never not been able to take care of everybody,” said Segur.  “We always manage, and it always happens, our donors come through for us and we’re able to take care of everybody that’s applied.  I’m confident we’ll still be able to do it, I’m just a little worried with the new structure of what we’re doing.  But it just has to be that way to run it safely.”

SAFS programs throughout the year include food distribution, Senior Government Commodities, Youth Diversion, and Summer Enrichment Camp.  Client families benefit from rent/utility assistance, adult computer education, supplemental school supplies, summer enrichment camp, and a Youth Diversion Program.

For more about SAFS

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