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Philanthropy committee encourages thankfulness

Photo courtesy Calvin Annual Fund.
Photo courtesy Calvin Annual Fund.

This Thanksgiving, the newly-formed Calvin Philanthropy Committee launched a new way for students to say thank you — the first annual “Give Back Week.” From Monday, Nov. 19 through Wednesday, Nov. 21, students had the opportunity to write letters to the many donors who support Calvin, thanking them for their generosity.

Whether it’s through grants, loans or scholarships, Calvin awards $65 million to students each year. More than 10,000 alumni, relatives of students and various friends of Calvin support the students currently on campus.

The Calvin Philanthropy Committee (CPC) grew out of the advancement office, adopting the motto: “Our mission is to flourish student financial giving at Calvin College through raising awareness and providing opportunities to give. In doing so, we hope to change the culture on campus to reflect an understanding of financial giving — in addition to giving of time and talent — as a form of stewarding God’s resources.”

Jacki Sikkema, a member of the committee, says raising this awareness is extremely important.

“It’s only because people give that many students can even attend Calvin,” she said.

During “Give Back Week” special stations were set up in the library lobby, chapel and Spoelhof Fieldhouse. Here students took the time to write a short “dear donor” note thanking donors for their gifts to Calvin. The notes will later be formatted and sent to all of Calvin’s donors. The CPC hopes this is become a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Sikkema explains the CPC works on two levels. An event like “Give Back Week” encourages students to give back on a smaller, more immediate scale. But on a larger scale, the CPC hopes to, as its motto claims, change the culture of giving around campus.

Adam Wiersma, also a member of the CPC, claims that most students he talks to find the idea of giving back to Calvin “ridiculous.”

Wiersma explains, “They say, ‘I’ve already given Calvin my tuition and I don’t really have any money to give.’”

Wiersma believes that an awareness of how much donations do for campus can change this attitude. “There are lots of things on campus that don’t come from my money.” For example, the flowers around campus are actually paid for by donors.

Facts like these certainly made Wiersma appreciate his education more. He says, “As someone who’s enjoyed the past three and a half years at Calvin, I’m very grateful for those who made it possible.”

Kaitlyn Beukema, a sophomore, works as caller for Calvin’s annual fund. She often dialogues with and solicits donations from alumni and friends of Calvin. Beukema says “It’s such a blessing to hear about how much donors love Calvin and … enjoyed their time spent at Calvin and genuinely care about [current students].”

Another caller, Anneliese Boehning expressed how seeing this side of Calvin changed her perspective on her education. “I didn’t realize how much it kept tuition down … I’m so thankful it’s less than it could be.”

The Calvin Philanthropy Committee hopes that students will be develop a spirit of generosity and thankfulness now that will serve them their whole lives. This includes more than just giving back to Calvin. Weirsma claims they want to “embellish and enlarge a philosophy about giving and foster a habit of giving, not just to Calvin but to other local or international institutions as well.”

About the Author

Julia LaPlaca

Julia LaPlaca is a Chimes writer for the 2013-14 school year. She is a freshman at Calvin majoring in literature and art history.

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