The Rev. Lewis Ross and his wife Jacqueline Ross shared their Christian faith by feeding and clothing their neighbors Saturday morning at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
The Bible tells the story in the book of Matthew of Jesus Christ saying that those who provide for the less fortunate are in fact living out his teachings. By that measure, the Rosses are well on their way to doing just that.
“Our passion is to help the economically disadvantaged,” Jacqueline Ross said Saturday as she guided would-be Easter basket recipients to the proper location. “We provide that community service. Today we are providing clothing and food as well as Easter baskets for children 12 and under.”
Jacqueline Ross said that she and her husband run Hosanna Christian Church and the Delta Food Bank, which is one of the church’s outreach ministries.
“Our food pantry provides for immediate nutrition needs, but we also teach people how to change their circumstances by teaching them how to budget and about nutrition,” Jacqueline Ross said. “They have to have applied for [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program] to qualify. We need to be able to see what their income level is and how many people are in their household. If they have a waiting period, we provide the food that they need to fill that gap.”
Jacqueline Ross opened one of the many pre-wrapped food packages donated by Here’s Life Inner City in Little Rock and the Children’s Hunger Fund.
“We have a box of corn flakes,” Jacqueline Ross said as she lifted a family-size box of cereal out of the larger food box. “We also have two bags of pasta, two bags of beans, a jar of peanut butter, two cans of tuna, two cans of corn and two cans of green beans.”
Jacqueline Ross held up a can of the tuna and a bag of pasta.
“Now we teach them that you can feed probably four or five people with this,” Jacqueline Ross said. “We show them how to make a sauce and then add the tuna and put it on top of the cooked pasta. If they just ate the tuna that was in the can, you would only feed two people. So we are trying to teach them how to get the most out of what they have.”
Jacqueline Ross said that the rainy weather Saturday seemed to have held the typical crowd count down for the annual event.
“We’ve probably had 250 people come in and they represent around 700 people that will benefit from what we are doing here today,” Jacqueline Ross said as she explained that often one or two people will come in to shop for the rest of their family. “They have to show us how many people are in their family that they need items for.”
Lewis Ross emphasized the importance they place on their food bank.
“Basically, what we want to do is let the people of this community know about the food bank,” Lewis Ross said. “What we do on Easter and at Christmas is for everybody in the city. We need some partners to work with us.”
Lewis Ross said that the food bank is at 11 Portea Drive in Pine Bluff.
The Easter baskets being given to the children were actually white paper bags with a child’s Easter drawing printed on each one.
“We did actual Easter baskets last year, but we decided that the bags would be easier for them to carry,” Jacqueline Ross said. “They get a book called Book of Hope, some raisins, candy, crayons and a card that has the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus printed on it.”
“What I’m giving back here today is because of what I get from God every day,” said Bambi Waller with the Freedom for Life Ministry Program House of Vision. “Our organization provides transitional housing for women coming out of prison, and I met Rev. Ross when he came to drop of some stuff at our house here in Pine Bluff, and I volunteered to help out when I heard about this.”
Thom Huey and his wife Mary Huey came down from Little Rock where they are part of Total Outreach for Christ Ministries.
“I was the truck driver,” Thom Huey said. “I went to San Antonio, Texas, to pick up the food. Any time something goes on in Southeast Arkansas as big and important as what the Rosses are doing, I want to be a part of.”
“I love my community,” Shirley Randolph said of why she volunteered.
“I love helping others,” Gloria Shavers said of why she was present Saturday.
Charlotte Boyd said that volunteering for the giveaway was in keeping with her faith.
“In the Bible it says to show compassion,” Boyd said. “This ministry is about compassion. We believe that this is what God commands us to do.”
“This is a blessing, it really is,” Linda Banks said of the service being provided to her.
“It was excellent,” Florida Cunning said.
“It’s nice,” Geneva Buckhanan said.
Life built on service
The Rosses plan to expand the reach of their food bank.
“We are going to serve the Arkansas Delta region and target counties with the highest areas of poverty like Chicot, Desha, Lincoln and Crittenden,” Jacqueline Ross said. “We just celebrated our 10th anniversary serving others in Pine Bluff. We were with the Methodist church for 15 years and served churches in the state. In 2003 it was on our heart to do this and to come back to Pine Bluff. We achieved our nonprofit status in 2005.
“We anticipate adding a transport ministry,” Jacqueline Ross said. “It will serve the elderly, low income and disabled. We will provide transportation to the doctor, the hospital and grocery stores.”