If you were hoping I was going to introduce you to the new guy in my life, you are right. Kind of. This guy is single. He has a good heart, and he's FULL of money.
Here he is:
Some of you might recognize the Peter Fish coin bank. You might have had one just like it as a kid or maybe your kids have one. The Peter Fish change drive kicked off at our church this past Sunday. All the kids and families get to take one home, and are encouraged to drop spare change in it for a three weeks. The proceeds benefit CRWRC, an organization who works to help those "who suffer from poverty, hunger, disaster, and injustice."
Last year, I missed out on the Peter Fish drive. Demand for banks exceeded supply, and by the time one made it to my house... the 3-week drive was pretty much over. So I kept the fish (please don't tell) and committed to doing the change drive anyway, donating the money later.
That was November, and in February I was still staring at an empty fish, when a member of my church committed to bicycling across the continent to raise awareness of poverty and raise funds to support causes that fight it. That was all the encouragement I needed to start collecting change. At first it was kind of hard as the dollars in my wallet disappeared quicker than I was used to. I groaned inwardly when one of purchases came to $1.07, and the next 93 cents were siphoned into the fish. But after a few weeks, I was used to it. I didn't miss the money anymore, so when the three weeks were up, I decided to keep saving my change.
Since then, I've collected $99, which means about $10 a month is feeding the Peter Fish. That doesn't sound like a lot, because it just doesn't buy much here in America. But in impoverished places around the globe, just pennies can make a significant difference in someone's life. Skeptical?
The CRWRC, where the money goes, publishes a gift catalog every year around the holidays, and the 2008 edition is hot off the presses. It shows how a few dollars can help fight poverty. I thought I'd do a litle shopping to see exactly what $99 can do, and here's what I found:
$15.00 = Doctor visits for two children in Ethiopia orphaned by AIDS
$ 4.50 = Blackboard & chalk for literacy classes in Malawi
$25.00 = Provides full immunizations to a child in Nigeria
$12.00 = Training on garden productivity for two families in Nicaragua
$12.00 = One mosquito net to prevent Malaria infections
$15.00 = Nutrition kit for a child in Honduras
$15.00 = Tool kit for volunteers responding to disasters in Canada & the U.S.
$ .50 = Two tree seedlings to help prevent soil erosion affecting farmers in Haiti
For a moment, I let my mind wander... What would I do with an extra $10 a month?
I'm embarrassed to admit that the first thing that came to mind was a couple extra trips to "four"bucks. My mouth waters at the thought of a steamy hot chai latte. (Why ARE those things so yummy!?) It's so easy to convince myself that my few dollars won't make a difference anyway, so why not?
But when I look again at the list I just made, I see a very different reality. A reality where a few dollers does make a difference. By no means will my coins change the whole world. Poverty and hunger won't end overnight. But the quarters and dimes I collect will make a difference to someone, somewhere. No doubt about it.
As for that yummy latte I was pondering a few minutes ago, I'm finding it less enticing as compared to another pretty sweet option: changing the world, one coin at a time.