Circle of Help partners with the Friendship Center to provide food, school supplies and more.

The Circle of Help program supports Waters Elementary School families by providing food, backpacks and school supplies, clothing, enrichment classes, summer camp experiences and more to local families in need of support.

Chicago Public Schools parent Jaime Freedman founded the program in 2017 in partnership with local social services, including the Friendship Center, to help alleviate the stress of financial hardship on students and their family members by offering assistance through community aid.

During COVID, Jaime wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune explaining how CPS families could pay forward the amount on their Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) cards, if they were in position to do so — not by using the card to buy food for their local food pantries, but by writing a check to a pantry for the P-EBT amount.

Jaime understood the money would go further if the Friendship Center used its purchasing power to buy food in bulk and assist clients with their specific needs. It’s one of the many ways Circle of Help members have thought about how they can encourage and expand support for community members.

Interested in learning more? Join the Circle of Help Facebook group!

With a local food pantry partner providing basic needs at scale and scores of families willing to pitch in to help fill in the gaps, Circle of Help is quietly delivering next-level support to many. We see the positive impact every day when young people have the resources they need to learn and thrive — even through a year as challenging as 2020.

-Jaime Freedman, Chicago Tribune