Crossroads Church raises nearly $500,000 during 'beans and rice' week to fight heroin and poverty

'Eat cheap, change the world'

CINCINNATI -- Crossroads Church raised nearly half a million dollars in seven days in an effort to combat the heroin epidemic and poverty facing the Tri-State

As part of the second annual beans and rice week at Crossroads Church, members were asked to sacrifice normal eating habits for one week and substitute their favorite dishes for rice and beans. The average beans-and-rice cost per meal is about 25 cents. Members were asked to save and donate the difference of their regular meals to the church in an effort to "change the world" one spoonful at a time.

The non-denominational Christian church announced during Easter Sunday service that they raised $497,975.77 within seven days simply by changing their eating habits. The funds raised this year is $120,939 more than the money raised during the campaigns first year. And that's not all of it.

Last year, the campaign was solely confined to Crossroads members. This year, 29 other churches in the area participated. The totals from the other 29-area churches have not been calculated yet and are not included in the near, half-million dollar total.

The money will be donated to four initiatives: 

  • $75,000 will be donated to the CityLink Center , an organization fighting poverty and unemployment.
  • $110,000 will be donated to Ocean Accelerator.
  • $112,975.77 will be donated to Whole Again , which feeds and supports needy children.
  • $200,000 will be donated to combat the heroin epidemic in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky that has lead to skyrocketing deaths. Specific organizations have not been named yet.

On Friday, the Ohio Department of Health reported a 37 percent increase deaths tied to heroin overdoses. The Department of Health said 680 people died of heroin overdoses in 2012, up from 426 deaths in 2011. 

"It's like that semester in college when you only ate Slim Jims," is a campaign slogan from Crossroads Church for the 2014 rice and beans week, which ran April 5 to 13. It's cheap, it keeps your system going and it saves money. But not only is it saving money, they hope this year the program can save lives through their collective donation.

The organization spent about $10,000 to launch the campaign last year. The church's end goal in 2013 was to raise $150,000 to disburse to three organizations across Cincinnati. It raised $377,036 within a week. The funds were donated to Compassion International, City of Cincinnati pools and the Strive Partnership to better the lives of children in the Greater Cincinnati region.

The Crossroads Facebook page is filled with members' beans and rice photos; some even vowing to maintain their commitment by having a beans and rice night once a week to save up for next year. 

"Mixing things up a bit. Eating cheaply to richly bless those less fortunate," read a post from Amy Courtney. Another Crossroads member, Korinne Morrison wrote "Eating weird this week to help our city! #beansandriceweek ."

Those who participated turned plain beans and rice into family meals -- making soups, enchiladas, salads and more.

Jen Sperry of Crossroads said the organization didn't set a goal this year as the forecast from last year was well over what they expected. She "encourages other churches to participate" in future endeavors and that they are currently awaiting the totals from the combined churches which will be released next week.

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