Since 1978, the Front Royal Congregational Community Action Project has served Warren County by providing food, clothing, and limited emergency financial assistance.
In 2018, the nonprofit organization celebrated 40 years assisting the community. C-CAP was started by a small group of people split between the Front Royal Presbyterian and Front Royal United Methodist churches.
“They operated out of those churches in the beginning,” said C-Cap President Larry Elliott. “They focused on food and helped people get access to food.”
As time went on, more area churches joined the churches’ effort. By the mid-1980s, they formed the organization that would become C-CAP.
“[C-CAP] had grown more by then,” Elliott said. “The need for more food had grown.”
Elliott said that C-CAP had to find a bigger space to store the food that was donated. It is now housed in the basement of St. Luke’s Community Clinic in Front Royal and has been steadily growing in recent years.
“We are currently serving 3,000 households in the area,” he said. “These are the highest numbers in our history.”
Elliott said the extra space gave the organization a chance to store other items aside from food.
“We have a clothing room for when people donate clothes,” he said. “We accept gently used and cleaned clothing. Last year, we gave away 15,000 items of clothing.”
C-CAP also offers people a chance to enroll in a limited emergency assistance program, which gives some help to those struggling to pay for certain things, like heating and medicine.
“This program helps take a bit of the financial burden off people,” Elliott said.
Over the years, C-CAP has worked to get the word out about its work and increase donations with help from local businesses and groups like the Rotary Club and the Warren County Chamber of Commerce.
In November, C-CAP teamed up with Front Royal radio station The River 95.3 for Camping for Hunger campaign. A bus was parked for a week and money, food and clothing donations were accepted. Elliott said that the campaign brought in 45,000 pounds of food and $8,000 in money and gift cards.
“We had a great turnout,” Elliott said. “We were concerned we were going to break the bus because we had so much food.”
Elliott said that C-CAP has also started looking into new ways to help families pay for their food and clothing.
“We started to accept gift cards for families to purchase food,” he said. “Families, kids especially, love going into stores and picking out their own food.”
Elliott said that C-CAP celebrated its 40th anniversary last year with a dinner where the organization's nearly 40 volunteers were recognized.
“It was the first time we did something for them,” he said. “We gave them a silver dove, which is the logo of our organization, for their years of service.”
The organization also celebrated the group’s hard work in 2018. Elliott said that the total market value of goods and services in 2018 totaled $450,000.
As C-CAP enters its 41st year and Elliott enters his third year as president of C-CAP, he said the organization is looking to the future and hoping to become more sustainable.
“Times are changing, and C-CAP needs to be more sustainable,” he said. “We are currently recruiting and have had good results in getting volunteers in 2018.”
Elliott said that C-CAP will continue its working relationship with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Winchester by using Link 2 Feed, which keeps the organizations up to date on what items clients are getting, like food and clothing.
“We’re working to bring C-CAP into the 21st century,” he said. “We will continue to change our strategy as the needs of our clients change.”
Elliott said that C-CAP is also looking to get more space to store donated items.
“We have limited space,” he said. “If we had more space, we would be able to store more food and help our clients.”
Elliott said that C-CAP is always looking for donations and volunteers.
“After all of this time, people in the county still don’t know we exist,” he said. “I hope we can change that.”
Those interested in donating to C-CAP or to sign up to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Elliott at 540-631-1382.