The Crusader Online

February 22, 2002
Vol. 43 No. 16

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Fasting helps raise funds

A group of 10 students and one faculty member went hungry for a day and it was not because of bad cafeteria food.

These students, seniors Jayme Neitz and Eric Farman, juniors Erin Herbert, Julie-Beth Campbell, Robert Gerrish, Anna Dechtiaruk, Angela Ellerman and Stephen Archer, sophomore Maureen Seifried and the Rev. Mark Wm. Radecke participated in the Fast for World Hunger.

This fasting tradition at Susquehanna began five years ago when Radecke was trying to find an alternative method to raise money for those suffering from lack of food.

"The genesis is that we were never able to participate in the annual Crop Walk here in Selinsgrove because we were always on break and we wanted to participate," Radecke said.

The Fast was a unique idea that allowed students to raise money for the hungry and to learn about hunger as well.

"The Fast combined the opportunity to spread knowledge about hunger and the feeling of solidarity with those who are hungry," Radecke said.

Not only are fasters in harmony with those who are hungry, they are following in a long tradition of fasting.

According to the Fast for World Hunger pamphlet given to all fasters: "Since biblical times, fasting has been used as a means to discipline the body in order to deepen spiritual life and intensify prayer life. The SU Fast for World Hunger aims to raise awareness concerning the ongoing problem of hunger and malnutrition, raise funds to fight hunger and provide a time of prayer for those who lack adequate food."

Those who participated were asked to secure a sponsor, encourage others to join, offer to help with the break-fast Wednesday night, refrain from overeating before or after the feast and to "pray frequently during the fast, for the world's hungry, for those who advocate for the hungry and for the proper distribution and use of the world's wealth," according to the Fast's pamphlet.

Fasting is recognized to be difficult and the pamphlet offers advice such as to "drink plenty of water and weak coffee or tea" and to avoid acidic juices which may bother the stomach.

If the fasting became too difficult for the faster, he or she was allowed to break the fast.

"If at any time a faster becomes so uncomfortable, weak or ill that he or she cannot continue the fast, that person will be allowed to discontinue without any feeling of disgrace or failure," the Fast's pamphlet said. "Human capacities and capabilities vary widely; God's love and grace abound for all. Fasters should not feel pressured to continue the fast beyond their endurance."

Radecke said that fasting is hard, but added, "I've also raised five children so filtering out unnecessary distractions is easy."

Ellerman agreed that fasting was difficult.

"It's not hard during the day because I am busy, but it was hard last night because I couldn't sleep since my stomach hurt," Ellerman said.

Despite never fasting before, Archer did not find fasting hard, though he did say there are some disadvantages to it.

"Fasting isn't actually that difficult for me. I keep drinking lots of liquids and try to avoid people eating food and even thinking about food, as then I notice my hunger more and it's in my mind," Archer said. "I found that without food I am also more irritable and tired."

Despite the disadvantages of fasting, both Archer and Ellerman agreed that it was a good experience.

"I decided to participate in the fast because I think it is for a good cause," Ellerman said.

The only regret that Ellerman had is that she said she wished she could have raised more money for the hungry.

"It is a worthwhile experience for me because I am testing my limits," Archer said. "I am also seeing how many people in the world feel day by day. It is an eye-opening experience. And this is for only one day."

For every meal missed by the fasters, Aramark will donate $1, which will go to the Church World Service to "combat hunger in the United States and globally," the Fast's pamphlet said.

The Fast raised $450 in past years.

"This is pretty typical of each year. Sometimes you have a higher profit and sometimes lower," Radecke said.

The Fast started after lunchtime Tuesday, Feb. 19 and was broken at dinnertime Wednesday, Feb. 20.

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