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Crowders help feed Tri-State#8217;s needy

PROCTORVILLE — Every first and third Thursday of the month Jean and Martin Crowder of Proctorville make the trip over to Ashland, Ky., with one expressed purpose in mind.

Their goal is to show the spirit of Christian charity and compassion to some struggling to put food on their table.

The venue for this special ministry is a sugar-cubed shaped building that is home to the Rivers of Life Fellowship Church, located in one of the less affluent neighborhoods in Ashland.

On those two Thursdays the church at 2930 Carter Ave., throws open its door for a food pantry from 10 a.m. to noon.

“It is because God told us to look after the poor and to help the needy,” Jean Crowder said. “It is the mission of our church. It is a core mission of the church.”

Besides their deep faith, the Crowders, a retired couple who have called Ohio home for the past 30 years, have a unique tie to the Rivers of Life church.

Their son-in-law, Don Moore, director of electronic media at Ohio University Southern, is both the church’s minister and founder. Moore, along with his co-pastor and wife, Angie, started the church 15 years in Greenup, Ky.

About four years ago, the church moved into the east end Ashland neighborhood, and now averages between 50 to 60 members.

“We are such a small church,” Moore said. “Their heart is for that neighborhood. There are a lot of transients. We see a lot of elderly on fixed pension.”

The last time the food pantry sign was put in the front yard of the church 66 people came through the door. That translates into 22 families or 58 adults and eight children.

Mainly the food comes from two sources. Church members will donate canned and dry goods or the church will buy frozen items from the Huntington, W.Va., food bank. Also church members will donate money instead of food items.

The Huntington food bank is a non-profit that receives food from such businesses as Kroger and then in turn will sell it to individual food pantries or community kitchens for pennies on the pound.

“We depend on that probably every other month,” Moore said.

Usually the Crowders and two or three others work the food pantry each Thursday, which gets its bigger response at the end of the month.

“They all appreciate it,” Jean Crowder said. “We have some people say if you didn’t have this we wouldn’t have anything. It is the generosity of the church and the members that support this.”

The Crowders have seen the recent escalating cost of fuel cause a significant increase in the number of those using the church’s food pantry.

“It is forcing some folks who wouldn’t normally visit it to come beg for food,” Martin Crowder said.