West Marine’s World Oceans Day Bag Design Contest Raises $3,860 for Nonprofit BlueFuture Fund

BlueFuture provides much-needed grant funding to community-based, nonprofit organizations dedicated to getting young people on and around the water

Watsonville, CA, July 19, 2016 –It’s official: West Marine’s first-ever World Oceans Day Bag Design Contest has raised more than $3,800 for the nonprofit BlueFuture Fund!

For the contest, the world’s premier Waterlife Outfitter invited youth ages 5-12 and 13-18 to submit original artwork inspired by the 2016 World Oceans Day theme — Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. A panel of West Marine judges selected a winner in each age group, and select West Marine stores across North America sold 773 reusable, ecofriendly bags featuring the winning artwork at $5 apiece.

All proceeds benefited BlueFuture, which provides much-needed grants to community-based, nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to getting young people on and around the water in both educational and recreational capacities. West Marine distributes BlueFuture grants twice a year — in late spring and early fall.

According to Lindsey Johnson, West Marine’s Director of Communications, this year’s World Oceans Day fundraiser for BlueFuture was a resounding success on more than one level.

“To start, our weeklong fundraiser brought in the resources to fully fund two grants for worthy nonprofit organizations this fall, and to partially fund a third,” she explains. “That’s a very big deal to the organizations that apply. Many of them are volunteer-run, grassroots efforts, and a $1,500 BlueFuture grant makes a real difference.

“The World Oceans Day Bag Design Contest raised public awareness as well,” she continues. “It helped spread the word about what we’re doing with BlueFuture, and what it means to support a ‘blue future’—giving young people from all walks of life access to waterlife adventure, education and stewardship.”

But that’s not all. The World Oceans Day Bag Design Contest also meant a great deal to its youth artists, including teen winner Amber Davis of Key Largo, Florida. The 16-year-old’s striking artwork depicts a sea turtle gliding past two objects, a jellyfish and a plastic shopping bag, accompanied by the words, “Do you see a difference? A turtle does not.”

Carmen S. Kelly is a Key Largo art gallery owner. She also is Davis’ art teacher, and she says that children in the Keys grow up very aware of the fragile ocean ecosystem. They learn about environmental issues in school, from kindergarten to 12th grade, and many students’ families have jobs connected to the water.

“Amber's dad works as a boat mechanic and uses West Marine as one of his to go-to stores,” Kelly writes. “He knew Amber would be interested in a contest that involved the ocean and provided her with the opportunity to enter... she did not hesitate to come to school and show me her sketches. She knew she had a deadline and asked if she could work during art class to get it done.

“I have taught marine science and art all my life,” Kelly continues. “When students get turned onto either one of these areas, I am the happiest teacher alive. So off to the post office she went to meet her deadline for West Marine. Several weeks later, she was waiting for me in the school courtyard with the letter that said she had taken first place. Her smile showed confidence and pride. As her teacher, I was proud to see a young person feel so important. I know this contest made a difference in how Amber sees the arts, the marine environment and her message through her art and the bags.”

World Oceans Day is a major annual fundraiser for West Marine, allowing it to grow the BlueFuture Fund, reach more nonprofit organizations across the country and, ultimately, have a greater impact in children’s lives.

To learn more about West Marine’s BlueFuture initiative and how you can help, visit www.westmarine.com/BlueFuture.

About West Marine
Each person has a unique connection to the water. At West Marine (westmarine.com,NASDAQ: WMAR), our knowledge, enthusiasm and products prepare waterlife adventurers to foster that connection and explore their passions. With more than 260 stores located in 38 states and Puerto Rico and an eCommerce website reaching domestic, international and professional customers, West Marine is recognized as a leading Waterlife Outfitter for cruisers, sailors, anglers and paddlesports enthusiasts. Since first opening our doors in 1968, WestMarine associates continue to share the same love for the water as our customers and provide helpful advice on the gear and gadgets they need to be safe and have fun.

Media Contact

Margo Donohue | press@westmarine.com | 917.679.6945