‘Cans for Critters’

MooseWood Nature Center conducting container drive

Erik Johnson, a board member at MooseWood Nature Center of Marquette, stands among the numerous cans and bottles that have been given to the center for its “Cans for Critters” program. Those items will be redeemed for deposit money to help MooseWood in its mission. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Is that mountain of returnable cans and bottles piling up in your basement getting even higher? With COVID-19 making returning those items to stores to redeem the deposits more difficult than in the past, an alternative will not only free up home space but help the environment.

MooseWood Nature Center, located at Presque Isle Park in Marquette, is conducting a “Cans for Critters” program that so far has generated funds for the center.

The proof is in the piles of returnables that fill the center’s back room.

MooseWood board member Erik Johnson said that as of last week, about $2,500 already had been raised through Cans for Critters, which began in June.

It has received help from around the community, including the Janzen House, a Marquette-based residential shelter, which had an overload of cans.

“When they filled up, actually Janzen House was nice enough to bring their cans over as well,” Johnson said. “So we’ve gone through thousands of cans right now.”

People may drop off their returnables during MooseWood hours from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as 2 to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Hours might change depending on circumstances, so people should contact moosewoodnc@gmail.com, visit its website at moosewood.org or go to its Facebook page.

Johnson said the plan is to conduct the drive through September or maybe into October.

One recently collected load was to have been taken to EconoFoods, he said, with an estimated $1,300 windfall from that haul. Another load was expected to bring in $1,000.

That’s an effort that requires specific people for specific duties.

For example, Johnson is in charge of the bottles while others are in charge of the cans, with sorting a necessity — and more volunteers are needed.

If people bring their cans to MooseWood but volunteers are not at the facility, Johnson said they can leave them on the side of the building.

Donors already are being especially cooperative.

“I didn’t even expect this — a lot of people are actually bleaching the cans and the bottles,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had any that are totally disgusting.”

The goal of the can drive, he said, is to help MooseWood — specifically, to “help with our animals and keep the lights on.”

The work continues at MooseWood, which has had several recent upgraded exhibits. One is a large new enclosure for Shelldon, its resident snapping turtle, as well as an improved enclosure for the box turtles. Trails and signage are being installed in the natural area as well.

Johnson said MooseWood also will provide three student internships in nonprofit management, animal supervision and programming.

Board member Tiffany Rantanen is active with the can drive as well as other MooseWood activities.

“With the exceptional generosity of the Marquette community, we have dropped off two loads of cans and bottles so far,” Rantanen said in a Saturday email. “At this time we are unsure if our major fundraiser of the year, the Haunted Bog Walk, will take place, so we are very thankful to the community for their support.”

She also indicated MooseWood might continue its Cans for Critters fundraiser into the fall. Details will be posted on its website and Facebook page.


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