Bob Wakeman believes every child should have the opportunity to learn how to fish and go fishing with their own fishing gear.
So much so, he has started a local effort to collect old, unused fishing equipment to repair and donate.
“Each spring at Hope Christian Church, we have a kids fishing day where everyone brings their kids out to go fishing,” Wakeman explained. “I realized there weren’t a lot of kids that had their own fishing equipment.”
Though Wakeman said he has always tried to help with fishing equipment at the church, he wanted to expand the idea.
After a back surgery in October, Wakeman realized there were many activities he could not do.
In an effort to keep busy, he decided to obtain old fishing equipment, re-condition it and donate it to kids in the community.
“All kids should have an opportunity to learn to fish and truly enjoy the great outdoors,” he said. “This creates the perfect opportunity.”
Wakeman said he believes fishing can teach youngsters three different things: patience, responsibility, and a love of nature and the outdoors.
“Fishing gives kids the opportunity to get out away from an urban setting and enjoy themselves,” he said.
Currently, Wakeman has set up five area drop-off locations where people can donate old fishing gear.
“Eventually what I want to do is expand this and hopefully get some companies that manufacture tackle boxes and equipment to donate to the cause,” he said.
If he is successful, this equipment will also be donated to children in the community.
On Jan. 4, Wakeman has plans to travel to Collinsville’s “Let’s Go Fishing Show” to get in touch with company representatives in attendance and ask for their help and support.
“I’ve already had a few that have shown interest and want to be on board, so we’ll have to see,” he said.
Once the poles and equipment are gathered from the donation locations, Wakeman will distribute them through Hope Christian Church and other locations in the surrounding communities.
“With kids, once something belongs to them, they are more likely to take care of it because it’s actually theirs,” he said. “Eventually, what I want to be able to do is take a bunch of kids fishing and teach them the patience fishing requires, as well as the dangers of water.”
Wakeman said he is willing to go pick up equipment at any location if someone gives him a call.
“So many kids just don’t have the opportunity to learn about fishing,” Wakeman said. “I want to help give all kids the opportunities that I had.”
Fishing is a tradition that has been passed down through Wakeman’s family, which was one of the motivations that brought about this cause.
“My dad taught me, I taught my kids, and my kids are teaching their kids,” he said. “It’s just a way for me to give back to others.”
To donate fishing equipment or gear, call Wakeman at 618-541-7336 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can also be dropped off at Thrifty Hardware and Home Center, 22 Jerome Lane, Cahokia; Ken’s Boat and Motor, 1810 South Main Street, Dupo; Dupo Marine Center, 900 North Main Street, Dupo; Hope Christian Church, 9273 Coach Stop Road, Columbia; and Ace Hardware, 229 North Main Street, Columbia.