November 21, 2005 | Myrna Anderson

This year's Peter Fish collection at Calvin College has netted almost $3,500 for world hunger relief.

This year's Peter Fish collection at Calvin College has netted almost $3,500 for world hunger relief.

Members of Calvin's Social Justice Coalition (SJC) spent a recent Saturday night emptying the bright orange plastic fish banks and counting up the donations, which included several personal checks and a lot of coins.

"We had $150 in pennies, which is 15,000 pennies" says Dave Salverda, a Calvin senior and SJC co-leader. "We ran out of penny rolls."

The money from the fish banks is being donated to the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee's world hunger relief efforts.

Though the collection didn't approach the total from last year's Peter Fish debut at Calvin, when the banks yielded a surprising $6,300, Salverda says the SJC is not disheartened by the result.

"There have been a lot of natural disasters that the Calvin community has given to earlier this year, and people were probably a little donated out," he says. "We're happy with it ($3,500)."

The fish stayed on campus from October 17 through November 6 and were collected at Calvin's Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) worship service and at other campus collection sites. The SJC also held a sunrise-to-sunset fast and a letter writing campaign dedicated to world hunger for students, faculty and staff in the Calvin community who wished to participate.

Though he feels the Peter Fish is a worthy project for Calvin to continue in the upcoming years, Salverda says the SJC wants to find ways to broaden the campus consciousness about world hunger and justice issues. The SJC hopes to nudge Calvin students beyond one-time anti-hunger efforts.

"Currently, between 30,000 and 40,000 people die of hunger every single day," Salverda says. "We can't know that pain. I always have food when I need it. Having a shortage of food changes the way you act and think. You can't work a normal job when you're struggling to survive."

Salverda notes that the Service-Learning Center at Calvin is continuing to collect any fish that may have been missed the first time around.

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