Hurricane Harvey was the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting nearly $200 billion in damage, breaking the previous record set by Hurricane Katrina, primarily from widespread flooding in the Houston metropolitan area. It was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year span in which no hurricanes made landfall at such an intensity in the country. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches (100 cm) of rain as the system slowly meandered over eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing catastrophic flooding. With peak accumulations of 64.58 in (164.0 cm), Harvey was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. (wikipedia)
Within the destruction of this storm were fifty families all with young boys who were participating in the scouting program like Cub Scouts in the suburb of Houston, Katy, Texas. All of the families were adversely impacted by this storm and the historic flooding that followed driving almost every family from their home and losing most, if not all of their possessions... including the boys camping gear. Not only did the families lose their camping gear, the school that the boys attended and held their pack meetings in was also flooded along with the nearby camping area that the boys used for overnight campouts.
On September 22, 2017, Stephanie Bell a mom of one of the young boys and a leader within Pack 585 reached out to Gear Forward seeking assistance to help identify avenues to assist the families to replace the outdoor gear that had sat in floodwaters for ten days. Gear Forward was honored to take on the challenge to work with the pack in Katy, Texas, and get these young boys on the road to recovery and back to the outdoors.
Gear Forward in consultation with Ms. Bell identified that the boys and Pack needed fifty (50) youth sleeping bags, 10-15 adult sleeping bags, and a host of family-sized tents to allow for the Dens, Packs and families to return to camping this coming spring.
Gear Forward began a campaign to tell the story of these young boys and the struggle their families were presently engaged in. Quickly, the outdoor community began to take notice, and donations of sleeping bags, tents, camp mats and other needed supplies began to be shipped from people all around the United States to Katy, Texas to begin to replenish what was lost. While the donations were heartfelt and amazing to see the need for the boys was great and Gear Forward in tandem with the call for unused gear created an online fundraising campaign. The intention behind the campaign was to generate enough funds to allow Gear Forward to purchase brand new sleeping bags for all fifty (50) boys.
The Facebook fundraiser lasted three weeks with a campaign goal of $1,000. Once again the outdoor community and friends of Gear Forward delivered by helping us exceed our goal and raise $1,215. While the campaign was a huge success and would surely allow for Gear Forward to purchase the needed sleeping bags for the boys, the need for the tents by the Pack still weighed heavily as we approached the end of the campaign.
As the fundraising campaign neared a close, Gear Forward received a call from HMW Outdoors. Mr. White, who heads up the outdoor outfitter specifically designed for youth engaged in outdoor activities wanted to help Gear Forward reach our goal of outfitting the pack. HMW Outdoors offered to donate all fifty (50) sleeping bags to Gear Forward for the pack. This donation would alleviate the need for Gear Forward to use the raised funds for sleeping bags and allow Gear Forward to complete the entire request for gear by purchasing new tents. As you will see in the video below, to the surprise of Gear Forward, HMW Outdoors not only donated sleeping bags, they also outfitted each cub scout with a mat, a stuff sack, a camp pillow, and a water bottle.
On Tuesday, November 14, 2017 the Pack met for their regular monthly meeting and was presented with not only sleeping bags, but camp pads, pillows, water bottles and stuff sacks all provided by HMW Outdoors via Gear Forward. Just fifty-three (53) days since Gear Forward was notified of the need of the Pack, gear was delivered to the boys. Gear Forward is still working to purchase the necessary tents for the Pack and Dens and is also working to direct other gear for the adult leaders and parent to ensure that everyone has what they need to camp this spring.
Gear Forward would like to thank the outdoor community who donated gear and money to this campaign as well as provide a special thank you to HMW Outdoors for going above and beyond by donating a large amount of gear to help fulfill this need.
We wish the best to the young Scouters of Pack 585 and their parents as they embark on new adventures again this spring. Happy camping boys!