Founded by spouses Tina and Derek Lee, Circle of Hope provides food, clothing and other essentials to anyone in need, regardless of where they live.
Tina said she and Derek created Circle of Hope to address a growing need for food donations she observed in Pflugerville.
“A lot of people have a misconception that there’s no hunger here—that people aren’t hurting,” Tina said. “People really started seeing the difference once COVID-19 hit.”
The Lees estimate the number of people serviced by Circle of Hope, both as a food pantry and as a community resource center, increased from around 300 families per month pre-pandemic to more than 2,000 families per month.
Before the pandemic, those receiving food donations could come to the facility and shop for their own groceries; however, Tina said the onset of COVID-19 social distancing protocols shifted the nonprofit to the distribution model. Now, volunteers distribute food to car trunks via a drive-thru format.
“We turned into a mobile distribution very quickly, and it’s been successful ever since,” Tina said.
As a general need for services have grown, the Lees said they are gearing up for the summer, when families relying on free meals provided by their childrens’ schools need additional support. While some local schools have programs over the summer to provide meals via pickup, the Lees said Circle of Hope still sees an uptick in demand over the summer.
To meet the additional need, the community center is seeking as many volunteers as possible to assist with packing donations for distribution, sorting donations, traffic control, doing intake and conducting retail pickup from local partners, including H-E-B and Target.
Volunteers age 16 and up may get involved without parent permission, but those ages 10-15 will need parent permission.
The first Circle of Hope distribution took place in 2017 due largely to assistance from Point of Grace Church in Pflugerville. Tina said the effort saw more than 5,000 pounds of food go to area residents, but it almost did not happen.
Circle of Hope, a registered 501(c)(3) and partner agency of the Central Texas Food Bank, had been slated to receive donations from the food bank but did not receive them in time for its first planned distribution.Fortunately, Tina said Point of Grace came through with enough food from previous drives to give to Circle of Hope.
“It was right on time,” Tina said. “That food is how we were able to start our distribution.”
Derek said Circle of Hope has long enjoyed community support from adjacent businesses, such as Three Points Plaza, where overflow food donation recipients park, to nearby Buffalo Framing and Truss. Tina said at one point Buffalo Framing and Truss used forklifts to move pallets of donations for the food pantry as a kindness.
“Without them we would have never been where we are today,” Derek said.
Circle of Hope Community Center
2900 W. Pecan St., Pflugerville
Hours: Mon. and Fri. 10 a.m.-noon
On May 2, Circle of Hope announced patrons may only come once a week on Monday or Friday due to growing need throughout the community. Due to the growth, the nonprofit is seeking more volunteers, and they must be 16 and up, or between the ages of 10 and 15 with parent permission and a signed liability waiver. Ways to help include:
-volunteering: requires standing, lifting and being outdoors for entire shift
-putting donation boxes into trunks
Most needed items boxes of cereal
-rice (1 lb. bags)
-beans (1 lb. bags)
-mac and cheese