Crossroads beans and rice week: $200k to be donated to local heroin recovery efforts

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

After months of sorting and organizing, the church announced Monday they will donate $200,000, of the near half a million dollars raised, to combat the local heroin epidemic.

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The Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, has pushed for state-wide initiatives after the heroin crisis was dubbed an "epidemic." The Ohio Department of Heath said someone died from a heroin overdose every other day in Hamilton. The amount of people expected to die from heroin this year is more than 35 percent higher than it was in 2012.

"We believe one of the biggest impacts we can make in the Tri-State right now is to join the battle against heroin addiction," said Jen Sperry, a spokeswoman for Crossroads.

The money for this cause is a result of the second annual beans and rice week at Crossroads Church in April, when members were challenged to sacrifice normal eating habits for one week and substitute their favorite dishes for rice and beans.
 
"Nearly half a million dollars was raised, because 17,000 people ate beans and rice for a week," Crossroads Florence Pastor Terry Phillips said. "We wanted to do an experiment for people to eat differently and see what would happen if it opened up funds to be a blessing in our city."
 
The average beans-and-rice cost per meal is about 25 cents. Members from the Tri-State's four campuses 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.
 
"To take what they would've spent at Applebee's or Olive Garden, and say let's invest all of that money in areas that would make a difference in our city," Phillips said.

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 are not included in the near, half-million dollar total.

The money will be donated to the following heroin recovery programs:
-Transitions
-Teen Challenge of Kentucky
-Serenity Recovery Network
-Prospect House
-Greater Cincinnati Recovery Resource Collaborative

"Ten thousand of those dollars are coming here to Bellevue Kentucky, at Transitions," Phillips said. "It's going to help three people in one because of the Healthy Newport Project. It's going to help the new mother, the baby, and that in essences helps free up a bed at the women's treatement center."

Karen Hargett is the assistant executive director of Transitions, and feels the donation will help at a crucial time.

"It comes at a time where the need is more than it's ever been in the 30 years I've been at Transitions, but it's also at a time when our funding is getting cut," she said.

The remainder of the money was donated earlier this year to CityLink Center, an organization fighting poverty and unemployment; Whole Again, which feeds and supports needy children; and Ocean, which accelerates early stage startups by guiding founders through faith and business practices.

The church's end goal during their first fundraising year 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.

Sperry 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.

WCPO reporter Tony Mirones contributed to this report.

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