MadCAPP celebrates 30 years

By Judy Miller
CANTON – In 1985 a group of concerned citizens led by Sister Grace Mary McGuire began to ponder ways they could make a concrete difference in the lives of people living in deplorable poverty in the Canton, Flora and Camden areas of Madison County. The group became Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty (MadCAPP). MadCAAP’s Clothes Closet (Grace’s Closet) is named in honor of Sister Grace Mary.
MadCAAP was born because this group felt the call to put love into action as they identified housing repair and working with neighborhood mothers as their primary focus. Thirty years later, housing repair and education remain at the forefront of MadCAAP’s work in the community; along with the expansion of those programs we have added a clothes closet, food pantry, helping hands garden and Thanksgiving food drive and continued to develop our educational programs, now called “New Attitudes.”
This past summer, MadCAAP expanded its outreach to offer vacation Bible school (VBS) and a reading club for children.
Thirty years sounds like a big expanse of time but there are still individuals in our community who do not know about MadCAAP and have no idea of the kind of abject poverty that exists just 20 miles north of one of the most affluent areas in our state. MadCAAP’s executive director, Karen Robison, her dad, Harold Waldrop, and board president, Olivia Harrell, the latter being two of those original concerned citizens, have a shared passion for the poor that continues to inspire others to seek ways to feed, clothe, educate and care for our neighbors living in poverty.
The organization is always looking for volunteers to help in both the food pantry and clothes closet, both open Mondays and Wednesdays. Groups of students from various Catholic schools and youth groups come to Canton to assist in housing repair projects and work in our Helping Hands Garden of HOPE.
Each summer for the past 10 years a group from Wisconsin called 6:8 spends a week volunteering with MadCAAP.  In June of this year, 6:8 helped with vacation Bible school, our reading program, the garden and on housing projects. Madison St. Francis Parish is one of our contributors and is always ready to provide an evening meal for these youth and their leaders.
Right now, the food pantry is very low on many items including canned vegetables. During the summer, volunteers can help in the garden. As the holidays approach, MadCAPP invites any family or community to adopt one of our families for the holidays.
MadCAAP’s annual fund-raiser, Food for Thought, will be held on Oct. 6, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Town of Livingston, located at the intersection of Highway 463 and Highway 22 in Madison.  As always, food will be provided by 25 of the areas top-rated restaurants, including Georgia Blue, Strawberry Café, Shapley’s, and The County Seat. Complimentary wine will be provided by Livingston Cellars. Chris Gill and the Sole Shakers will be the musical entertainment. Food for Thought’s Silent Auction is always a highlight of the event. This year’s auction includes Disney Park Hopper passes, a Destin condo rental, diamond earrings, Prada handbag, Mississippi pottery, countless gift certificates and Home Décor items.
Tickets for Food for Thought are $50 per person and may be purchased online at  Attire is casual.  Proceeds from the event will fund MadCAAP’s programs that serve its 1,600 client families who live in poverty in our community.
(Judy Miller is the assistant to MadCAAP’s executive director.)