SPRINGFIELD, Mo. The Ozarks is a long way from the Bahamas, but the area is certainly doing it’s part to help those whose lives were forever changed by the recent damage caused by Hurricane Dorian.
But Bass Pro Shops, its owner Johnny Morris and Convoy of Hope, who partnered together to organize the massive relief effort, are all based 1,250 miles from the Bahamas in, as Johnny said proudly at the ceremony, “My hometown of Springfield, Missouri.”
Morris was a frequent visitor to the islands that were ripped by 185 mile-per-hour winds, tying one of the strongest landfalls on record, killing at least 50 people with over 2,500 still missing and 70,000 in need of food, clothing, and shelter.
“I’ve never seen that type of destruction anywhere,” one survivor from the Bahamas observed.
Known as a fisherman’s paradise, the satellite images now show a beautiful setting turned into scorched earth without vegetation and Morris wanted to reach out.
“Knowing that we have a unique position as leaders in the fishing community, how can we rally our customers who love to fish, and connect them with the people in the Bahamas, whether they’ve been there or not,” said Bass Pro Director of Communications Jack Wlezien.
After originally pledging $2 million, Morris has now upped that to $3 million and asked Bass Pro customers to donate by rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar.
Customers who donate at least $5 or more will receive a limited edition “Anglers for the Bahamas” bumper sticker for their car, truck or boat.
The store will also add $100 to the relief effort for every Johnny Morris signature rod-and-reel sold.
“So there’s a chance to donate a collective of $4 million total and growing,” Wlezien said.
But the man who’s donating millions himself says it’s the smaller donations by individuals that will make the difference.
“It takes people reaching out to each other, embracing each other, helping each other,” Morris said. “And there’s a multiplier effect when we do that.”
So far, this “Fishing for a Mission” is a call that’s been answered.
“More than 81,000 anglers across North America have contributed to the campaign,” Wlezien said.
With Springfield’s Convoy of Hope, the worldwide leader in disaster relief, putting that money to good use the Ozarks is once again demonstrating the values of caring and compassion.
“The response has been amazing and humbling but not necessarily surprising knowing the types of folks we know in the community,” Wlezien said. “Springfield and the Ozarks are all people with enormously large hearts. When we see people in need, we roll up our sleeves and say, “How can I help?'”
If you’d like to donate you can go to “Anglersforthebahamas.org” which is part of the Convoy of Hope’s website. Click HERE.