What started as a vision 40 years ago has turned into a community lifeline. Christian Community in Action has aided over 200,000 families in Cary in the last five years alone.Â“Margaret Keller had a vision,Â” Becky Swanson, a 40-year volunteer, said. Â“It was for all of GodÂ’s children to work together, for each of us and for those in the community who were less fortunate.Â”CCA members gathered to celebrate their 40th anniversary Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Cary Presbyterian Church. They reflected on how the organization began and discussed what they are doing now and what they hope to accomplish in the future.KellerÂ’s vision began with a pre-school and a literacy program in 1968.Volunteers like Bessie Baker filled their cars with children from Apex and Cary and drove them to the preschool. Â“I was bringing eight kids to Cary, back then my car was packed. Of course, I couldnÂ’t do that today with seatbelt laws,Â” Baker said. Â“Ms. Keller brought good ideas and dreams to the area, she started things here that we never thought we would have.Â”Barry Harvey was one of those children who benefited from KellerÂ’s vision; he went to the pre-school within a year or two of its opening. Â“A lot of the people who were in preschool with me were the people that I graduated from high school with. I developed lifelong friendships going to that pre-school,Â” he recalled. Â“There was an emphasis on learning to read, my favorite book was the Â“The Three Billy Goats Gruff,Â” and I would check that book out every week for my parents to read to me. But there was always a sense of community, and they invested time in my life.Â”KellerÂ’s goal was to unite GodÂ’s children, no matter their race or their churchÂ’s denomination, to help those in need in Cary. When CCA started, bringing together many churches and people of different races was difficult, but today, more than 21 churches have volunteers who participate.Â“Dorcas Thrift Shop is named after a [biblical] seamstress,Â” said Howard Manning, the Executive Director of CCA. Â“She made clothes for the widows and the poor in her community. Now, if someone needs something, there is a resurrection of Dorcas when they come to us. If someone needs clothes, we give them clothes. If someone needs food, we put food on their table. If someone is sick, we sometimes pay their medical bills.Â”The Dorcas Thrift Shop began as a way to offer clothes and household items to those in need. Today, it provides revenue for the CCA to help others. Its crisis ministry is located in the shop, where people who are facing financial crises can go for assistance.Bill Easter, a past president of CCA, made it clear that CCA does what it can to help others. Â“We donÂ’t give the individuals the money. We write the check to the company that collects their rent, or their utility company,Â” he said.To help generate even more revenue, CCA sometimes puts unusual items donated to the Dorcas Thrift Shop on eBay. In the future, they hope to even have an eBay store. Items that arenÂ’t sold or come in unusable are often broken down into scrap metal and recycled.Â“We have recycled trailers full of scrap metal and receive a little money in return. We used to have to pay to have it hauled off to the landfill; it makes our operation a little greener, and we take less to the landfill,Â” Easter said.Besides the thrift shop, CCA provides grants to organizations in the area with similar goals, offers child care for mothers who would otherwise not be able to work, and also education for adults, especially women trying to get back into the work force.Â“Times are changing,Â” Manning said. Â“The economy next year is not going to be good, so our work is cut out for us for the next few years; we have to increase our level of awareness in the community. In the last five years, we have given $12 million in financial aid to those in our community.God expects a favorable return from what he gives us, He has given us the talents and skills to complete his mission. ItÂ’s not just because itÂ’s the right thing to do, itÂ’s because it is the thing to do.Â”
For information on Christian Community in Action, visit cca-cary.org or call 469-9861. The thrift shop is located at 1231 N.E. Maynard Road.