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Ohio gives shoppers plenty of opportunity

The Christmas season is synonymous with both the giving and receiving of gifts from the heart. Just as the three wise men brought gifts to the Christ child as He lay in the manger in Bethlehem, so do we take the opportunity to give gifts to those we hold dear.

Throughout my time as mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio and now, as U.S. senator, I have been steadfastly committed to keeping jobs in our state and bringing business to Ohio and its companies. In fact, when I was governor, I helped establish the Ohio Proud program to promote food and agricultural products that are grown or processed in Ohio. Even today, you can find Ohio Proud tags on products in grocery stores throughout the state, helping Ohioans support their local farmers and growers.

Although Ohio-made products are available to consumers around the nation, there is no better place for local companies to garner support than from within the state.

And recently, concerns raised about the safety of foreign-made products have given us all a reason to reassess where the products we buy are coming from — especially when buying toys for our small children.

This holiday season, I encourage all Ohioans to purchase products made right here in the state and I’d like to share with you a few gift ideas suitable for everyone’s list.

Whether loved ones and friends are close-to-home or far away this Christmas, the tradition of sending a greeting card is a small, but festive way to show they are in your heart. Cleveland-based American Greeting Cards is the world’s largest publicly traded greeting card company. And, in addition to the traditional mail options, American Greeting Cards also offers an extensive collection of e-cards available on their Web site.

In the age of video games and virtual toys, it is comforting to find a company that still places imagination above all else. Hudson-based Little Tikes Toy Company prides itself on retailing classic toys and playground equipment. Their pedal-powered ride-along cars, turtle sandboxes and playground sets encourage children to turn off the television and computer and enjoy the outdoors.

But not all toys are just for kids. Middleton Doll is the largest doll maker in America and is considered the industry leader of vinyl collectible baby dolls. With more than 100 new dolls introduced each year, Middleton Doll designs its dolls to look like real babies, with different eye and hair colors, skin tones and sizes. Their Belpre headquarters is the home to the Legacy Dollhouse

Museum and offers year-round tours.

Whatever traditions you enjoy, I hope you will support your fellow Ohioans by purchasing locally-made products this year and in years to come.

Merry Christmas.

George Voinovich is an Ohio Republican and a member of the U.S. Senate.