Local love in action

Imagine you have $10 million to support those in need in your community for the next 12 months. What would you do?

How about provide 50,000 summer lunches for low-income children?  Or, school clothes and backpacks for 1,000 students?  Would you consider providing 6,000 medical, dental, or vision patient visits for uninsured adults? Maybe you’re inclined to play Santa Claus. How about providing Christmas presents for over 1,800 children?

These are just a few projects funded by Christian Community Action (CCA), a local non-profit that provide programs serving 42 communities and eight school districts in Denton, Collin, Tarrant, and Wise Counties.

The organization’s mission statement says it all:  In the spirit of Jesus Christ, CCA ministers to the poor by providing comprehensive services that alleviate suffering, bring hope and change lives.

“We are a Christian ministry dedicated to serving those in need in our communities,” Gary Daniels emphasized.

He is CCA’s energetic Director of Communications and Marketing, and he has experienced the array of personal problems that come with being downsized out of employment. He smiles and calls himself a ‘corporate refugee’.

Anyone, he says, may find themselves suffering, feeling hopeless, and drifting on the changing economic sea. “Long-term unemployment, under-employment, increased single parenthood, and low wage work are a few things that have changed the face of poverty in recent years.”

CCA began in 1973 when eight members of a local Bible study group envisioned Christ-like love in action. By the end of its first year the group had not only organized CCA, but had obtained its IRS 501(c)(3) tax certification.

Three years later the young charity moved from donated space into its first resale store on West Main Street in Old Town Lewisville.  Eleven years after that, CCA relocated its expanding operation to South Mill Street where it expanded to fill a multiple building campus that today houses its food pantry, Adult Health Center, family assistance, education and vocational programs, administrative offices, and its upcoming K-8 educational initiative, Youth in Motion.

Since its move to South Mill Street, the organization has opened the doors of three more resale stores in Lewisville, Carrollton and The Colony.  And, earlier this year, CCA dedicated its brand new, state-of-the-art, 35,000 square foot Donation and Processing Center at 900 Lakeside Parkway in Flower Mound.

“We raise over a third of our annual operating budget from the resale of donated goods by the community,” Daniels said.

He showed off CCA’s new Donation and Processing Center, a high-ceilinged cavern filled with wall-to-wall racks of furniture, electronics, and overflowing crates of clothing and former household clutter.

Daniels clarified, “While this is a lot of product in the Donation Center today, we process over seven-million donated items every year, which fuels the sales in our resale stores, all which help fund CCA’s many programs.”

“Individuals and families open their hearts when they empty their cupboards, closets, dressers, and garages, and the ensuing tide of donated goods lifts all boats in the community harbor,” he said.

He picked up a guitar in practically new condition, and plucked a nylon string. “You’d be surprised how often people donate items like this guitar. We’ll turn this into money that will provide free health care, or food from our pantry for a senior, or housing for a family in crisis, or GED classes…you get the idea.”

One way or another CCA turns all but a tiny percentage of its donations into resources that fund programs ranging from immediate crisis relief services to longer-term helps such as education, counseling services, and child care.

Throughout the Donation Center in south Flower Mound, CCA employees and volunteers sort product, work conveyor belts, and drive forklifts, as they move, sort, and test and fix as needed, everything that comes into the building.

“At our four Resale by CCA stores, we stock a giant selection of furniture, electronics, household and home décor goods, clothes, toys, books, and seasonal items. Resale by CCA is the biggest treasure hunt in town,” Daniels said with a friendly laugh.

Damaged goods are recycled or sold for scrap. The surprisingly small amount of waste left, after all these processes, proves the adage that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. CCA makes every effort to utilize every donated item.

CCA employs a staff of 150 and organizes the loving labors of as many as 3,000 volunteers yearly, whose skill sets run the gamut from sorting donations to medical, dental, and optometry services.

Grant agencies, corporations, churches and private donations comprise the other two-thirds of CCA’s annual budget.  The program for CCA’s 40th anniversary luncheon last February listed familiar corporate partnerships such as CoServ, Medical Center of Lewisville, Huffines Auto Dealerships, Hawaiian Falls, Waste Management, Calloway’s Nursery, and many more generous companies and individuals. Big-hearted individuals, businesses, and churches all partner with CCA to make a difference in our communities.

Individuals and families in crisis arrive at CCA either on their own or through community referrals. Economic self-sufficiency is the goal line for which CCA’s develops its programs. Their clients first go through a qualification interview then receive services and goods based on their needs and life situation.

“We refer to our clients as ‘Angels’,” Daniels said in reference to the Bible’s Book of Hebrews 13:2 which says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

“We give our Angels a hand-up, not a hand-out,” he said.

The CCA hand-up model may include medical and/or dental treatments, medications, eyeglasses, food, clothes, GED and ESL classes, job training, literacy, child-care, help with utility bills, and transitional housing for up to two years.

Seth Harrison, the Director of Spiritual Care also heads CCA’s housing effort that is always filled to capacity.  “At any given time, we have a backlog of applicants,” he says of the CCA’s two-dozen single family, 3-bedroom homes in the Lewisville area.

You won’t drive past these neat neighborhoods that cradle small private playgrounds, and say to yourself, “Ah, public housing,” because CCA’s well-maintained, family-oriented neighborhoods don’t fit that stereotype.

Harrison added that crime is a non-issue in these locales. “CCA aims to alleviate suffering, but more importantly, if we haven’t instilled hope in our Angels as they transition from economic crisis, and its attendant problems to independence, then we consider our efforts have failed.”

CCA’s philosophy is that poverty is a set of circumstances that can be changed – relieved by the availability of life’s necessities, basic opportunities, education, emotional and spiritual healing.  Poverty can strike anyone from the elderly to robust and capable wage earners to dependent wives and mothers to helpless children.

Families who experience poverty over multiple generations need vocational and educational opportunities, and CCA offers a wide array of free classes from GED and ESL to improving literacy to managing personal finances.

CCA targets serving almost 30,000 children in Title 1 schools which have a high percentage of low-income students.  In conjunction with seven local charities and businesses, CCA will open its new Youth In Motion educational exhibit hall on October 5 of this year at the South Mill Street campus.

The 7,500 square foot, hands-on, applied science, technology, engineering, and math facility is being developed
in partnership with Sci-Tech, a similar facility that serves over 65,00o children in the Frisco area.

CCA is excited about it’s partnership with the Lewisville Independent School District (LISD) to develop an after-school pilot program that will feature a number of engineering, applied science and technology professionals who will serve as mentors to the children selected for the program. In addition, LISD will be supporting the school field trip initiative where students will participate in exhibits such as ‘Putting DNA to Work.’

Youth In Motion is designed to give disadvantaged elementary and middle school students in the CCA service area extra-curricular educational exposure.  The objective is to improve academic performance and to extend CCA’s hand-up to the upcoming generation.

So, consider the power of your donation. Maybe you have an extra sofa upstairs you never use, a cabinet in your kitchen full of pots and pans that haven’t been used in years, a closet bursting with clothes that haven’t seen daylight in quite a while…by donating these items to CCA, your donations will help fund programs that bring hope and change the lives of so many in our communities. You may even be interested in giving financially to support your community. Every donation of goods, funds, volunteer hours, and prayers to CCA helps others in concrete, measurable ways.

Visit the CCA website www.ccahelps.org for information about:
– How to Give
– How to Donate Items
– How to Volunteer
– CCA Season of Hope Gala

CCA by the Numbers (Annually)

• 10,689 individual served each year

• 9,500 hours of job and educational training

• 77% that complete job training have found employment

• 2,300+ spiritual care and counseling appointments

• 14,737 volunteer placements

• 50,000+ lunches served to children

• 997 students received new clothing, shoes, back-packs

• 1,811 children received Christmas toys

• 115 senior citizens receive food and fellowship weekly

• 5,909 patient-visits at the Adult Health Center

• 500+ families qualify to shop weekly at the CCA Pantry

• 4 resale store locations with over 1,000,000 customers

• 7 millions items processed at the Donation Center


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