Frugal Family: Free Festival, Museum Passes

Free activities and passes are available this Saturday at Six Flags (for military families), many museums, national parks and the Douglas County Courthouse.

We're all watching our family budgets these days. Whether shopping with coupons or looking for two-for-one deals, we're taking advantage of all sorts of offers and savings that help us stretch our dollars.

This column is dedicated to giving you five great local deals each week that will help your family’s bottom line. Since we do the scouting for you, you can save time as well as money.

You are a big part of this column. Let us hear about the deals you've seen. Just add them to our comment box. Then come back each week and see what we've uncovered together. 

Remember: You also can help military families overseas with your expired coupons through Coupon Mom's Military Coupon Program and feed your neighbors in need with free coupon specials found at CouponMom.com and SouthernSavers.com.


1. Warehouse of Hope

Deal: On my first visit to the Warehouse of Hope to help my homeschooling group as a volunteer last week, founder Craig Parson told me that anyone can come there if they need assistance. There are no income restrictions, he explained, since some people may make a lot of money, but 90 percent of their monthly income is taken up with paying bills. Those people are just as much in need, he asserted.

Donations are not mandatory but, of course, are welcomed. Parson said freight costs for delivery of free food to the ministry still costs them $7,000 to $10,000 a month. While "you can't get your milk and meat here," Parson said you can get enough to supplement your pantry.

In January 1995, Parson and his wife Becky formed Warehouse of Hope, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to help those who are "unable to fulfill the most basic necessities of survival." Open Tuesdays through Thursdays, Warehouse of Hope serves about 700 to 800 families each week with free groceries, supplies and clothing—down from around 1,000 a week since many can no longer afford the gas to drive to the warehouse.

In Paulding, Douglas, and Cobb counties, about 40,000 children "require financial assistance just to eat lunch," Parson said one time to the Paulding County Board of Education. The school board has assisted the ministry through its annual support of Operation Poverty, just concluding its fourth Poverty Awareness Week on Friday. Last week food and clothing items were collected throughout Paulding by dozens of high school students who lived on $2 a day—like 60 percent of the world's population—and stayed in tents in the backyards of parents, all while attending school.

First-time visitors to Warehouse of Hope must make an appointment to attend a one-hour mandatory orientation session. Here is a link to frequently asked questions about the ministry.

Ongoing needs of the ministry include canned goods (with unexpired dates) and paper goods of all kinds— diapers, training pants, bath and facial tissue, paper towels, etc. Monetary donations may be made online here.

When: Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: 100 Hunter Road off Ga. 92 and south of Brownsville Road.

Cost: Free.

Contact: 770-489-0509 to register.


2. Six Flags Military Special

Deal: Military Appreciation Days will conclude at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell on Saturday and Sunday. Active and reservist members of the U.S. military may receive free admission for themselves and up to three dependents with their current military I.D. card. For those deployed, their spouse and up to three dependents may receive free admission with a current military I.D. card.

Extra tickets may be purchased for half off the main gate admission price. Also, retired U.S. military may buy half-off tickets.

Where: 275 Riverside Parkway, Austell.

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cost: Free.

Contact: 770-948-9290.


3. Free September Saturdays Festival

Deal: Family Day and a Children's Safety Fair will be the theme of the concluding September Saturdays Festival this Saturday. There will be free admission, free parking and free shuttle service.

The Children's Safety Fair will feature:

  • a bicycle rodeo with safety stops and bicycle helmets (SafeKids Douglas and Sweetwater Pilot Club)
  • a two-minute children's health check-up (eye, ears, nose and throat from Douglas Public Health)
  • a two-minute tooth check-up (from Dental Services for Children)
  • a hot car
  • children's mentoring information (Communities in Schools of Douglas County)
  • child safety seat demonstration (SafeKids Douglas)
  • and lots more—all free!

Other attractions will be a community marketplace with more than 100 vendors and exhibitors, concerts and programs from church and school groups every 30 minutes on the courthouse steps, a food court, rides, games, fellowship and fun. Also, there will be:

  • Middle Ages Re-enactments by the Society for Creative Anachronism, including sword fights along with knights and princesses.
  • an American Red Cross Bloodmobile
  • a USTA Tennis Challenge with the support of Gold's Gym on a 3/4-size tennis court
  • a huge book sale inside the courthouse

All those attending are asked to bring a canned good for A Gift of Love and their lawn chairs for the free movie at 8 p.m.—"How to Train Your Dragon" by DreamWorks Animation with the vocal talents of Gerard Butler, America Ferrara and Craig Ferguson.

This program is sponsored by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners through its Department of Communications and Community Relations.

When: Saturday, 11:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with the movie at 8 p.m.

Where: On the grounds of the Douglas County Courthouse, 8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville.

Cost: Free except for food and merchandise.

Contact: Wes Tallon at 770-920-7593 or wtallon@co.douglas.ga.us.


4. Free Museum Passes on Saturday

Deal: Smithsonian magazine's seventh-annual Museum Day occurs Saturday, meaning free tickets. Online downloadable tickets are limited to two free ones per family. Here is a list of participating Georgia museums. The closest ones to Paulding include the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville and the Marietta Museum of History.

This month also is SWAPtember for those who hold area attraction memberships. They can receive discounts at other attractions. For instance, since we have a family membership at the Atlanta History Center / Margaret Mitchell House, we were able to receive $10 off our total when we visited Zoo Atlanta this month.


5. Free National Parks on Saturday

Deal: The U.S. National Park Service is hosting fee-free days this Saturday and on Nov. 11-13 at all national parks. That means no entrance fees, no commercial tour fees and no transportation entrance fees. However, unless otherwise noted, other fees will not be waived such as for reservations, camping, tours, concessions and fees collected by third parties.

The closest national parks to Paulding are Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area - Island Ford Visitor Center and Johnson Ferry - North. Many other access points to the Chattahoochee may be found here.

Among Saturday's activities will be:

Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club Cleanup from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for volunteers to clean the trails throughout the park, continuing on second Saturdays. Meet at the new parking lot on Old Highway 41 off of Barrett Parkway in Marietta. There are no age restrictions, and no advance registration is required.

Contacts: Club website for latest updates on weather cancellations, use online contact form or call 770-427-4686, extension 504.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area / Johnson Ferry - North from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to volunteer on clean-up teams. Tools, water and lunch will be provided. Reservations are required by calling 678-538-1200.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area Palisades - White Water Creek from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. for a ranger-led walk.

"We will travel above rock cliffs, through mature oak-hickory forest, mesic ravine forest and floodplain forest, observing evidence of cultures who once settled along the Chattahoochee. We will visit the largest rock shelter in the park and hike up to the top of overlook ridge to trace the changes that have occurred in this area over time," according to the website.

Those going should wear comfortable hiking shoes, dress in layers and bring drinking water, binoculars, hand lens, notebook and camera. Reservations are required by calling 678-538-1200. 


Carolyn Cunningham September 26, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Cold Stone Creamery is hosting the 10th Annual World's Largest Ice Cream Social only on Tuesday between 5 to 8 p.m. to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation, helping to make wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions. For a $1 donation, you will receive a 3-ounce sample of a Sprinkled With Wishes Creation, containing ice cream, brownie, rainbow sprinkles and fudge. The Paulding location is in Hiram on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway. Please visit http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/promos/makeawish/index.html for more details.


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