Kevin Gass and Sonita Garcia stand next to Santa’s sleigh led by Blackjack.

Angela Vannucci, May Dugan Center board president, and Rick Kemm, executive director

One of the biggest trees in Ohio City once again served as a beacon of hope for the holidays.
The May Dugan Center’s twelfth annual tree lighting ceremony presented by CareSource kicked off the holiday season with an outdoor event that illuminated thousands of lights on the 37-foot tree in the center’s plaza.
The free event featured light refreshments of cookies and hot cocoa, along with music by the Urban Community School Choir and the May Dugan Center Seniors on the Move Music Group. Using a horse-drawn carriage as a sleigh, Santa Claus and special guests made several stops throughout Ohio City to bring joy to people in need in the community.
Event sponsorship raised more than $26,000 to support May Dugan Center programs. For more than 50 years, the May Dugan Center has provided services that include food, clothing, behavioral health counseling, adult education, job searches, victim services and trauma

Emily Bowler, Eliduviana Aponte and Nicolle Bellmore-Pierse

counseling. The May Dugan Center, like many human service nonprofit organizations, has experienced a massive demand for food aid and other essential programs in response to changing economic times and the COVID-19 crisis. The May Dugan Center was named to honor the late May Dugan, a long-time resident of the neighborhood who had been a one-person advocate and counselor for her neighbors in need. STORY BY CYNTHIA SCHUSTER EAKIN/PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC