At the mercantile store that I owe my employment is a collection box for the Marine Corps Reserve "Toy For Tots" program. This morning I couldn't help but notice how forlorn the collection box looked - it was completely empty. Seeing this sight was more that this soul could bear so I scheduled a break to obtain a gift for some boy or girl.
Deciding what kind of gift to give was easy - I wanted to give the gift of fly fishing. Here at my prairie home there is only one of the big retailers and from the past I knew they always carried those inexpensive Shakespeare fly fishing beginner kits. The kits have a rod, reel, line, leader, and some flies. There is really no quality to anything in the kit, but, for a kid starting out they are almost perfect.
At the fishing section of the big retailer, disappointment set in early. Ol' big retailer did not have one single offering of any beginner fly fishing kits.
Pausing for thought, I realized what I was really wanting to give was the gift of fishing itself. The majority of us that fly fish today didn't start out fly fishing. Some of us are old enough to remember fishing with cane poles and bobbers. At my grandfathers home cane poles were all we had and we were happy to have that.
Big retailer had seven or eight different beginning fishing kits so my reasoning was to get one of these in hopes that it would spark interest in a boy or girl child somewhere. If that happened, then the day they might evolve to fly fishing could possibly come.
At the checkout stand I pay Markel and head back to the mercantile store where I placed the fishing kit in the Toy For Tots box - a box no longer empty. Soon after that, two fellow employees came up and handed me $40.00 and said they wanted to donate gifts also. The box is slowly filling up.
Having personally participated in the Marine Corps Toy For Tots program in the 1970s, I can tell you it is a good solid program where 100 percent of gifts donated go to the intended recipients - children.
So, I'd like to say to all the brothers and sisters of this culture we call fly fishing, if you see a Toy For Tots collection box somewhere near you, consider giving the gift of fishing this Christmas season.
It's an uplifting thing.