Change is hard.

People become comfortable with what they are familiar with, I’m guilty of this.

COVID-19 has forced us to do things differently, to say yes instead of saying no and finding ways to keep our members and our community connected during a time when we can feel isolated.

We at the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce consider ourselves scouts. We are taking the lanterns and flashlights, leading the way into the dark that is he unknown from COVID-19. Our members can learn from our success, and our mistakes, so they can navigate in this new reality.

This year is the 50th Anniversary of our Business, Industry and Education Day that we host along with Culpeper County Public Schools. Normally, we have thousands of teachers descend upon Eastern View High School for a morning of networking with our businesses and fellowship with each other. Obviously, our school year is looking different. Early in our conversations with school administration we recognized the difficulties we faced if we were unable to gather thousands of employees and vendors together. We quickly formulated a plan to still provide a way for our members to market themselves to all public-school employees through an email blast. Their specials will remain visible on a webpage available to teachers through CCPS.

Members will be able to create coupon codes, QR codes, barcodes, deals and videos to encourage school employees to support their organization or business. In this ever-changing digital world we realize the importance of shopping local and educating our workforce about the myriad of possibilities in Culpeper County.

The early reaction has been positive, and we encourage members to take advantage of the opportunity to make your business or organization known to our educators. Hopefully, next year, we’ll kick off another 50 years of promoting business, industry and education with CCPS in person – but until then we want to stress the importance of innovation and flexibility. It’s something we know our educators have already embraced.

Another annual event we host is our Crabfeast, sponsored by the Chamber’s Young Professionals. However, COVID-19 has once again changed that plan. Instead, the Young Professionals pivoted and thought outside the box for a social distancing fundraiser. Each year, the Young Professionals choose a local nonprofit organization to promote and donate to. This year, with the increased need in the Culpeper community, the Young Professionals chose to support the Culpeper Food Closet.

On Saturday, July 18, the Young Professionals will be hosting a charity car wash at Culpeper Car Wash, at 618 Sperryville Pike. For every car that comes through from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Culpeper Car Wash is generously donating $2 to the Culpeper Food Closet. Members of the Young Professionals will be volunteering to wash tires and dry cars, in an effort to generate more donations for the Food Closet. Each car that comes through will receive a “goodie bag” with items from our sponsors, Fauquier Health, Culpeper Media Network, Germanna Community College, Windstar Technologies, Inc., Appleton Campbell, Cintas and Chrysler of Culpeper.