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Community outreach day brings joy to young anglers

 

By Alex Welch
Assistant Edtior 

  Taking a child fishing for the first time can provide a long-lasting reminder of a special occasion. Taking over 200 children takes that idea to a whole new level, and that’s exactly what Maurice Sporting Goods, Inc. in McDonough sought to accomplish last week.

Kirsten Issacs from Fundamentals Academy shows her excitement as she holds up her first catch of the day.

Photo by Alex Welch

  Maurice and its employees ventured to the Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center to bring hundreds of visitors out to fish on Tuesday, July 16. Each year the company chooses one day, labeled “Maurice Cares Day,” to give back to the communities surrounding its various locations. The McDonough distribution center, managed by William Kramer, has been providing this fishing event for years and it has grown from an initial 67 children to over 300 people total.

   “When we started Maurice Cares Day, we didn’t know what we were going to do. We were all sitting around one day and I said, ‘Hey, we’re the biggest outdoor distribution center in the world. We’ve got all the fishing equipment. Why don’t we use what we’ve got and get the kids out on the water?’” said Kramer. “Most kids have never even picked up a fishing pole in their life.”

  Kramer and his employees provide rods, reels and assistance to everyone in attendance. They invite local camps, church groups and other organizations in the area, and they receive help from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office in spreading the word about the event. Kramer said Sgt. Jimmy Spence with Community Relations plays a big role in promoting it all. Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer and his department were at Cubihatcha untangling fishing lines and offering any help they could to the children.

  “They have a great day whether they catch anything or not. You hear a lot of laughing and joking. Every now and then someone will get a big one and everyone surrounds them,” said McBrayer.

  The Henry County Water Authority provided transportation around the reservoir, Primo’s Grill cooked hot dogs for everyone in attendance, and the National Wild Turkey Federation set up a BB gun range to teach gun safety. Maurice also received donations of supplies, food and drinks from 23 companies.

  Jory Katlin, the president and CEO of Maurice, flew down from the company’s headquarters in Chicago to see what his McDonough site was doing for Henry County.

  “Our group here in Atlanta has just created an amazing event all these years, and I thought it was long overdue that I come down and participate and enjoy it,” said Katlin.

  Employees volunteering from Maurice wore green shirts to represent Maurice Cares Day. Katlin was impressed by the number of workers he spotted at Cubihatcha.

  “Those who have come before us have always made sure that we know it’s important to always give back to the community. For us to take just one day to close down our business and offer this opportunity to our associates is insignificant to what we’ve received in return,” said Katlin. “I’m thrilled to see all these green shirts around. I’m proud to see them participating.”

  Among the various groups lining the banks of the reservoir was the Henry County Special Olympics. Alan Hudson, member of the advisory board and former chair for the organization, said this was the second year the Special Olympics was a part of Maurice Cares Day. As he talked about the enjoyment everyone gets out of fishing, he noted one of his children even kissed a fish he caught.

  “It’s really a good thing, and they just have a blast. They have a blast even if they don’t catch many fish. It’s the experience of being able to do it,” said Hudson.

  The television show Lunkerville was also on site shooting a new episode. Host Mike de Avila said his show is designed to display real world stories about fishing. He noted the great turnout from the community and how important events like this are.

  “It’s amazing, it’s overwhelming almost how many kids and how many people are here helping. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they pull in that fish, for a lot of them it’s their first fish, so it’s really cool,” said de Avila. “That first fish is pretty special. It’s a memory you’ll never forget. Think of how many memories are being made here.”

  Maurice currently has offices and warehouses in the U.S., Canada and Shanghai, China. Each location spent July 16 holding a community activity.

 

 

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