A little girl lifted a pink plastic duck out of a tub of water as bystanders watched intently. When the duck turned up a winner, they cheered.
“They pick a duck until they get one with a smiley face or a star on the bottom,” explained Eric Zoodsma, a first-year student at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich. He, with fellow first-year students Marcia Holtrop and Justin Newhuis, staffed the “duck pond” station at a street carnival hosted at Creston Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.
“The goal is to get school supplies handed out,” Zoodsma said. “It’s an outreach to the kids in the neighborhood, getting them ready for school.” The little girl won a pencil.
At other stations, Calvin students passed out folders at the putting green, notebooks at “Bucket Bonanza,” erasers at the ring toss, and pencil grips at the ball toss.
The back-to-school carnival is a two-year-old Creston CRC tradition, and the Calvin students were on the scene because of StreetFest, a 14-year-old Calvin tradition that partners the college’s brand-new students with community agencies for three days of service-learning.
“This group of kids from Calvin is great. They’re marvelous,” said Nan Urschalitz, the Creston CRC youth director who planned the event. “Every single one wanted to go canvassing, and that’s an intimidating thing to do.”
This year’s StreetFest theme was “Seeking the Well-being of the City.” Elsewhere in Grand Rapids, StreetFest teams were stocking shelves at Second Harvest Gleaners, organizing the Grandville Avenue Neighborhood Library, cleaning up throughout the Midtown Neighborhood Association, and lending a hand at other CRC churches.
“This year’s StreetFest introduced new Calvin students to the biblical theme of reciprocity,” said Jeff Bouman, the director of the college’s Service Learning Center. “In seeking the welfare of neighbors, communities, and others in general, we find our own welfare.”
At the Creston “putting green,” first-year student Laura Bardolph echoed Bouman’s comments.
“I think it’s great, just the fact that we’re getting out into the community and showing our love for Christ through the way we act. Not just saying it, but doing something about it.”
Then she returned to her station, eager to hand out notebooks to kids who made a hole in one.