Go fish

Missouri Kiwanians bring freshwater fun to kids.

Like many organizations in 2020, the Normandy Kiwanis Club in Berkeley, Missouri, canceled its signature project — an annual fishing derby for children — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2021, with safety protocols in place, members felt it was more important than ever for the event to happen. 

“We were determined to provide this great experience for the area’s children,” says Monica Huddleston, a longtime club member and co-chair of the fishing derby. “Not only was the weather fantastic, our partners and co-sponsors stepped up their support to make it our best derby ever.”

The 2021 fishing derby took place on a sunny Saturday at Mathison Lake, which the city of Berkeley opened and stocked specifically for the event. 

The Kiwanis club loaned out fishing poles, and three certified angler instructors from the Boy Scouts of America helped more than 60 young participants fish the waters. 

Pandemic safety precautions included face masks donated by Affinia Healthcare, along with social distancing measures.  

Amazon stepped up with lunch provisions, which the Kiwanians grilled and served up with their contributions of chips and drinks. Club members also staffed the registration areas, helped children bait their hooks (with bait donated by the city) and measured the children’s catches for prize awards.

Even if a fish didn’t capture a prize, every young participant received a goodie bag — complete with piggy bank — from Midwest Bank Centre, an attendance prize from Amazon and a book from the Kiwanis club.

“(The children) really enjoyed the day, as members showed them how to attach bait, bobbers and hooks and cast a line for this great outdoor activity,” Huddleston says. “For many of the children and families, this was their first time fishing. This is our signature service project, and I know it really made a difference in the lives of the children and their families.”

This story originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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