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Oct 7, 2004

Calvin, CRWRC and Peter Fish

A familiar orange fish is appearing by the hundreds on the Calvin College campus in an effort to combat world hunger.

The "Peter fish" is actually a plastic, fish-shaped bank, which Calvin's Social Justice Coalition (SJC) — in partnership with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) — is distributing across the Calvin campus during the October 4-8 World Hunger Week.

In a month the filled fish will be returned to the SJC, which will donate the proceeds to Bread for the World and the CRWRC.

"Hunger stems from deep poverty — serious poverty," says Calvin senior Jason Fileta, an SJC leader from Wheaton, Ill., who is helping coordinate the Peter fish effort.

The story of the Peter fish is told in the Biblical book of Matthew when Jesus tells Peter to go to the lake and throw out his line. The first fish he catches, Jesus says, will in its mouth have a coin which Peter should use to pay the temple tax.

The CRWRC believes that the Peter fish is an excellent symbol for its annual world hunger campaign and has been using the fish as a fundraiser for years. So many years, in fact, that Calvin students who are currently picking them up around campus remember them from their childhoods.

“I remember getting one when I was in Sunday School. I took it home and we filled it up,” says junior Dave Salverda , a native of Cambridge, Ont., who was passing out the fish from a table in the college's Johnny's Café.

This is the first year the college has used the fish during world hunger week, and SJC organizers quickly ran through their supply of 500 fish when they passed them out at a Sunday night Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) service. An additional supply of 300 fish is disappearing fast.

"Some people took two," Fileta says. "They fill up," Salverda rejoins.

Calvin students often do more than plug spare change into the fish. Many choose to make their giving sacrificial.

"They’ll drop something for a week," says Salverda, "like drinking coffee. And then they'll drop the money they would have spent into the fish."

The bright orange Peter fish is only the most visible part of the SJC's many-pronged anti-hunger campaign.

Calvin students also fasted from sunrise to sunset and prayed during chapel break on Wednesday, October 6. That same day the SJC hosted John Orkar, who works with the CRWRC on poverty programs in West Africa.

And on Friday, October 8 (at 8 pm), the SJC is hosting a benefit concert, featuring Calvin musicians, at Four Friends Coffeehouse in Grand Rapids.

~words by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-526-6475 (v)
616-526-7069 (f)