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