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Four Decades of Giving

How Hill Country Community Ministries has made a difference by serving Central Texas.

Gene Krider is the Director of Community Engagement at Hill Country Community Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Leander. Alongside the other compassionate members of the organization, he has helped serve those living in poverty and crisis across 100 zip codes.

“After many years in corporate America, I had reached a point in my life where I wanted to do more meaningful work and give back to the community,” says Krider. “I had actually supported HCCM through the company I worked with nearly 10 years prior. Through a series of inquiries and irony (God’s intervention), I was presented the opportunity to serve HCCM.”

Since being founded in 1983, HCCM has coordinated local involvement to make a real difference in the lives of its neighbors. Its mission is to improve health and well-being, and members have done so with nearly 50,000 individuals in 2022 alone.

“It is very comforting to know that we have been in existence serving our community for 40 years,” says Krider. “We started out as a Christmas program for local youths, and today we offer so much more. The need has increased, but our ability to reach more people has grown.”

In fact, with the rising cost of living, HCCM has experienced a 35% increase in the number of families that they assist. This means that now, more than ever, it is critical to spread the word about their goals.

“I attend many networking events, Chamber of Commerce events, and community resource fairs. My responsibilities include being a brand ambassador and educating the community on who we are, what we offer, and how to connect with us, from getting assistance to referring someone to us to being a part of what we do,” says Krider. “The other aspect of my job is coordinating and facilitating our fundraising and community awareness events.”

Krider notes that every person on the team, staff or volunteer, has a servant’s heart. Their hard work and dedication have been evidenced by the food pantry, which feeds approximately 2,300 families every month.

“We choose to serve everyone that visits us with dignity and respect,” says Krider. “The people we serve are at a point in their life where they need help. The assistance we offer provides their basic needs items, like food, clothing, and other resources. But mainly we provide hope that things can get better. Every day, it takes a team of people, from picking up food, preparing food orders, serving the clients, and cleaning up at the end of the day. Staff and volunteers function without missing a beat.”

Throughout the year, HCCM hosts and attends events to gain public interest in what they do. Some examples have included CROP Hunger Walks, the Cedar Fest BBQ Cook-Off, and their Star Struck Gala.

“Our annual golf tournament is my favorite event simply because I love golf,” says Krider. “But our most rewarding event is our Laces Back to School Shoe Event because the kids’ smiles as they select their shoes are priceless.”

On top of the new shoes, HCCM is home to several programs that specifically cater to the local youth. In particular, they provide school supplies and support a local backpack program.

“Youth are dependent on their surroundings and the support they receive to be nurtured and to grow. I feel that by providing some basic needs, we can make a difference in their situation—maybe providing resources they may otherwise not receive,” says Krider. “At the end of the day, I hope it gives them reassurance and hope for a better tomorrow.”

Community members of any age, with any size family, can benefit from the work done by HCCM. Some clients even receive clothing vouchers that allow them to go to HCCM’s thrift store and shop for their families.

“We all know how quickly kids grow out of clothes. In addition to our vouchers, our thrift store makes simple things like houseware, furniture, and even toys more affordable for families with limited resources,” says Krider. “We also partner with other agencies. For instance, we donated suitcases to the Leander Police Department Domestic Violence division. We also donate baby furniture items, such as cribs, playpens, strollers, and car seats, to ACTS of Love.”

The best advice that Krider has to those wanting to give back is to make it simple. It can be as easy as picking up extra canned vegetables when grocery shopping, volunteering on a weekend, or writing a check for a few dollars to a charity that you believe in.

You can support Hill Country Community Ministries today. Head to their website at hccm.org to learn about the latest volunteer opportunities and ways to donate.

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