Louisville Christian Assistance Center (LCAC) is one of those places most of us never notice.
It sits in a corrugated building at the end of a strip of shops, sandwiched between the post office and a barber shop.
But to about 300 people each week, LCAC, a nonprofit assistance center, is a lifeline. Relying solely on the Lord’s provision and some generous local churches to keep their doors open, LCAC assists those in need with food, clothing, personal care items, and household necessities, free of charge. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, volunteers are there to meet not only physical needs but to fill spiritual needs of visitors: a single mom who needs prayer, an out-of-work dad who is struggling, or an elderly woman who just wants to talk.
Filling a Community’s Needs Through a Shared Vision
LCAC was the vision of Larry Devault, former pastor of St. Marks Methodist Church in Louisville, TN, who saw a need for a community food and clothing pantry. In August 2010, representatives from six churches in the area (Beech Grove Baptist, Zion Chapel Baptist, Louisville Christian Church, St. Marks Methodist, Immanuel Methodist, and Middlesettlements Methodist) met to discuss how to pursue Devault’s vision. Two local businessmen donated the use of a building and offered to pay for utilities, and in February 2011, LCAC opened its doors.
Just two families came that first day, but within six months, word had spread throughout the community. Three years later, as many as 160 families have been served in just one 4-hour day. LCAC is open only 14 hours each week, but its impact is huge.
Margie Davis, the center’s administrator, explains how LCAC works. “When a new family comes to the Center, we take them in the office and get basic personal information. We do not ask for identification or any qualifying material. We tell everyone that the only thing they need to do is walk in the door and say that they need food, and we will give it to them.
We do not limit who can come based on where they live. We feel that God filters this out. We offer to pray for the new family, and no one has turned us down. …They are surprisingly open to share their struggles and their embarrassment at being in the position of having to ask for help.”
LCAC is a 501 (c)(3) organization run entirely by volunteers, including some who rely on LCAC for assistance but want to give back as much as they can. One small group at the Maryville Vineyard became particularly interested in serving at LCAC when they heard just how many families they serve regularly and how much work just a few volunteers have to do to meet these needs. Volunteers staff the building when it is open, shop for food and other items (Second Harvest is a primary source for food) on off days, and restock shelves and sort donations whenever they can.
Vineyard Small Group Serves LCAC
In the fall of 2013, 10-15 people from the Vineyard went to LCAC on Monday evenings to restock food items, fill grocery bags with food for the next open day, fold and organize clothes and household items, and sort through a mountain of bags of mostly clothing donations. Their goal was to ease some of the work for the regular daytime volunteers. On any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday evening after LCAC has closed for the day, the center is a jumble of mixed-up clothes, empty hangers dangling from racks, and bare food shelves. The Vineyard team hoped to free up some valuable time for the regular volunteers by sorting and reshelving.
Afton Ketron, one of the Vineyard members, said that this was really her first time volunteering. “I had no idea this place even existed,” she said. “When I walked into the largest stack of donated clothes I had ever seen, I really wondered how we were going to make a difference.”
Margie Davis at LCAC is quick to say that the group from the Vineyard made a tremendous difference. “The small group from Maryville Vineyard was an answer to prayer about how we could get our clothes better organized. They were so helpful to fold, organize, and get our shelves ready for the next open day.”
In addition to physically volunteering at the center, the Maryville Vineyard made LCAC one of its “Must Have Gifts” at Christmas. Through this program, the Vineyard asks members to consider donating to a specific organization. This year, Vineyard members gave $1870 for buying groceries to LCAC. “It still amazes me,” writes Margie, “that you just appeared one day and your church has become such an answer to many prayers.”
How You Can Help
So how can you help? LCAC is always in need of three things: volunteers, donations, and prayer. Volunteers can come in either during regular hours or can arrange to come in at other times to sort through donations, restock shelves, clean, stock food, and bag up food items.
Items they are especially in need of include liquid soap for hand washing, bars of soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors (men and women), toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, feminine products, adult diapers, towels, sheets, canned/boxed food items.
LCAC also appreciates monetary donations. They typically spend between $1200 and $1500 per week on groceries. Most of the food is purchased at Second Harvest, where food is at least half the price as in the supermarket.
Margie is quick to point out that God always provides for their needs.
At one point we were struggling to raise the $5000+ we were spending each month. One month we were $500 short of what we needed to pay the Second Harvest bill. We shared this with the group of volunteers at our morning prayer time and gave it to the Lord.
“As the day went on we had two individuals walk through the door and say their wives brought clothes to the center and they just wanted to bring us some money. One man brought $250 and another brought $200. The rest of the money was received the following day. This was a turning point in the way we looked at things. We began to understand that God was in control of the Center. If He wanted us to be a ministry, He would provide for our needs. I don’t know where the money comes from, but we have not had another shortfall. Our faith has increased tremendously.”
LCAC is open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9 a.m.- 1p.m. as well as Mondays from 4-6 p.m. They are located at 2942 Topside Road in Louisville, right next to the post office. If you’d like to help in any way, stop by or call them at (865) 233-3112. Monetary donations can be mailed to LCAC at P.O. Box 354, Louisville, TN 37777.