Americans are immensely proud and grateful for our military and their sacrifices to help keep our country safe. We try to show our appreciation through a variety of ways. Maybe we send care packages overseas. Or just a handshake and a sincere “Thank you” when we see someone in fatigues at the airport. There are programs like “Trees for Troops” which help provide Christmas trees. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing Campaign, Zebco, the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association, and the Sierra Club Water Sentinels are also working together to thank military families.
Zebco refurbishes rods and reels, mostly Zebco 33 spin cast reels, and spools them with line, ready to go. The Sierra Club Water Sentinels then work with the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association to distribute them to thousands of military families across the U.S. This results in fun fishing trips, fishing derbies, and countless grins.
Twenty poles recently were provided to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. The three sons (ages 3,5, and 7) of Technical Sgt. William and Jennifer Brown (US Air Force) put them to good use and caught some of their first fish: brook trout. (See photos.) I’ll bet these anglers cannot wait to go fishing again.
“The equipment was a great gift to our folks and everyone was very eager to put it to use,” wrote Gerald T. Johnson, Chief, Asset Management Flight, Fairchild AFB. “The generosity of the Sierra Club and their sponsors is very much appreciated. The demand far outstripped the supply, so if more becomes available keep us in mind.”
Fishing encourages personal independence and increases awareness of ecology, fragile water resources, and conservation practices. There is a plaque on the wall of a fishing cabin in Minnesota that I’ve visited that states: “Fishing is the quest for what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
A donated fishing rod and reel can make a powerful difference in a child’s life, opening a greater outdoor world for exploration and discovery. It is also a small token of appreciation for our military families, a tool for fun, opportunity, and hope.
Want to help? Have some new rod and reel combos that are just gathering dust in your garage? Contact Tim Guilfoile, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club Water Sentinels.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.