"Stuff a Blue Goose" to collect toys, food for area kids

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NILES It's the season of giving and state troopers in Michigan hope the community will step up and "Stuff a Blue Goose" on Saturday. Blue goose is a nickname for the trooper vehicles, the only police cars painted entirely blue in the country.

State troopers started the "Stuff a Blue Goose" campaign in 2005, in White Pigeon, Michigan to collect toys and food for the Salvation Army. Since then, the idea has spread, and now 15 posts throughout the state take part. This is the first year the Niles post is getting involved, and they've selected Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Berrien and Cass Counties to partner with. The goal is to collect as many toys, food and clothing items as possible during a four hour period.

"The donations that are given to our troopers here at this event remain in our community. We're not shipping them off to somewhere else in the country or somewhere else in the world even. Everything we get here stays here to help the kids we actually support,” said Trooper Jeff Miazga of the Michigan State Police.

BBBS of Berrien and Cass serves 170 kids a year in its mentoring program and relies on donations. Currently, the organization has a 37-person waiting list.

“We serve children who are ages 6 to 12 years old. Most of the children will be 8, 9, 10 years old, and we are looking for gifts [for] boys and girls,” said Christina Frank, the Executive Director of BBBS of Berrien and Cass.

“Every year Big Brothers Big Sisters hosts a holiday party for the kids we serve, the kids and their families. This is above and beyond what we do for our traditional programming. We don't have the budget to put on a Christmas party, so we rely on just support from the community," said Frank.

In addition to state troopers, this year support will also come from a group of volunteer teens. TEAM, or teens exhibiting able minds, is a branch of the Berrien County Community Foundation. The teens offered to host and plan the annual party, where gifts will be distributed to children in the BBBS program.

"They're a grant advisory committee and every year they make about $50,000 in grants to youth programs. They also do community service projects,” said Lisa Cripps-Downey, the President of the Berrien County Community Foundation.
Stuff a Goose is going on Saturday, December 6, from 12-4 p.m. at Tyler Automotive in Niles. For more information about the program, click here.