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Fourth reboot

Township, church partner to save Independence Day

From left, Daniel Whiting, Clarkston Community Church administrative pastor, Ken Elwert, parks and rec director, and Kelly Hyer, recreation supervisor, talk on the phone to Duane Higgins, volunteer with Clarkston Community Church, discussing partnerships to save July 4 activities. Photo by Trevor Keiser. (click for larger version)
February 16, 2011 - Clarkston Community Church stepped up to help save Independence Township's Fourth of July festival.

"The Clarkston Community Church came up with a community challenge," said Kelly Hyer, recreation supervisor for Township Parks and Recreation. "Challenging the Clarkston community to raise $10,000, they will match every dollar raised towards July Fourth events and fireworks."

The event costs about $60,000. From $40,000-$45,000 is raised through sponsorships, onsite parking, activity passes, and vender fees, leaving about $15,000.

If the challenge raises more than that, the excess would probably go to Deer Lake Beach, said Parks and Recreation Director Ken Elwert.

Duane Higgins, volunteer with Clarkston Community Church, said they will also sign up 50-100 volunteers to help at the event.

"As a church we just want to be part of the community and this is one of the best places in the world to live," Higgins said. "We're also seeking to find ways where we can make sure we're serving and helping the community's less fortunate."

Daniel Whiting, administrative pastor, said the church focuses on making an impact "outside of church walls."

"Our leadership, our senior pastor and our whole congregation has been 'how can we be externally focused and impact our community in a positive way,'" Whiting said. "This is a great way to build a relationship with the community, give back to the community."

However, Whiting said they don't want to be the only ones to step up.

"We're hopeful other churches will jump at the chance as well, not just Clarkston Community," he said. "We hope many others will look at this as an opportunity to give back to the community as well."

Hyer said they're looking for service clubs, Boy Scout troops, schools, neighborhoods, individuals, families, businesses, and anyone elsedy wanting to help.

Without the help Elwert said it was a "very real chance the fireworks weren't going to happen.

"While it hasn't been decided 100 percent until the board meeting tomorrow night," he said on Monday's press conference "It really is an incredible partnership, from my standpoint having a church like Clarkston Community step up here for an event like July Fourth defends our religious freedom."

For more information, check or call 248-625-8223. Donations can be mailed to 6483 Waldon Center Dr. P.O. Box 69 Clarkston, MI  48347.

"This is not only spurring people to get outside the box and get involved in their own community, but it's bringing more organizations together," Hyer said. "It's going to be a true collaboration."

Higgins agreed.

"One of things that's exciting to us and the church is when this challenge is successful, we'll not only be able to assuming it's approved have the Independence celebration, but also have some of those funds go over into some the other activities in the community," he said. "I think it's great to work on and hopefully solve two of the big challenges (July Fourth and Deer Lake Beach) that are there."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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