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By CAITLIN COSTELLO
Capital News Service
LANSING— The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Salvation Army’s Coats for Kids program are hoping to help families bundle up this season and enjoy Michigan’s outdoors.
Coats for Kids encourages the public to bring gently used coats to one of 16 state parks on Saturday, Dec. 5 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. In return, donors will receive free entrance to the park for the day.
They are: Bay City State Recreation Area, Fort Custer State Recreation Area, Harrisville State Park, Interlochen State Park, Island Lake State Recreation Area, Leelanau State Park, Ludington State Park, Maybury State Park, Muskegon State Park, Pinckney State Recreation Area, Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area, South Higgins Lake State Park, William C. Sterling State Park, Tawas Point State Park, Traverse City State Park and Warren Dunes State Park.
This is the Salvation Army’s 24th year for the project but its first partnership with the DNR, said Roger Snider, director of the Salvation Army’s Western Michigan and Northern Indiana Division, based in Grand Rapids.
He said the organization “strives to help our neighbors in need and encourage communities and neighbors to step up and help each other.”
Maia Stephens, a DNR recreational programmer, said this is the first of many partnerships the department hopes to set up in the next year.
“We are looking for new ways to give back to the community,” she said.
The partnership is also part of the DNR’s GO-Get Outdoors campaign to encourage children to experience Michigan’s wildlife.
The GO-Get Outdoors campaign sponsors more than 500 events yearly, from learning how to ski and kayak to teaching environmental stewardship, said Stephens.
“We want people to see this as an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in a season when people wouldn’t normally think to spend a day at a state park.”
Drop-off locations were chosen based on what parks are open year-round, and the amount of staff available to help on the event day, but donors can enter any open state park for free that day with a donation, said Stephens.
Tim Schrener, unit supervisor at Traverse City State Park, said the park is looking at the day as an “open house to show off the wonderful resources we have to offer.
“We love our Traverse City Park and we encourage folks to fill up the gas tanks and come visit for a day,” he said.
© 2009, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.