It’s not every day that a former U.S. president jumps in on your Zoom call.

To the surprise and delight of many, President Barack Obama joined the weekly call of Food Depository’s staff and partners in late April. In the conversation, he reflected with gratitude on his last visit to the Food Depository in November 2018. The former South Sider also offered words of encouragement in the ongoing effort to meet the rising need for food assistance.

“I’m inspired by what all of you are doing,” Obama said. “Keep up your faith and your hope and know that you’re doing the kind of work that makes communities stronger and makes the world a better place.” Watch some highlights from the call here.

In that same spirit of hope and gratitude, we’d like to acknowledge some of the help that we’ve received from creative and kindhearted people in the community – people just like you.

The Rev. Reginald Sharpe Jr.

In April, Pastor Sharpe and the community of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in the Fuller Park neighborhood wanted to spread “love and light,” despite the church having to remain closed because of the virus. In less than a week, they raised $20,000 for the Food Depository.

A headshot of Rev. Reginald Sharpe Jr.

Rev. Reginald Sharpe Jr.

Sharpe said he hoped the gift would provide resources for communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

“God bless the Greater Chicago Food Depository for all they do for so many across our city,” Sharpe said when presenting the check.

Erielle Bakkum

Erielle Bakkum, a Hyde Park photographer, wanted to use her talent to help others affected by the coronavirus pandemic. She took more than 100 family portraits – all from a safe distance – to raise money for the Food Depository.

She ended up raising $10,000, blowing past her initial goal of $2,500.

Photo of Erielle Bakkum

Erielle Bakkum

“You can live without a lot of things, as many of us have learned this spring. But you cannot live, or do anything else, without food,” Bakkum said.

Alex Cuc

A rising junior at Vanderbilt University, Alex Cuc has stayed true to her Chicago area roots. Need proof? The Buffalo Grove native recently raised more than $2,000 for the Food Depository by offering a unique incentive: Help her reach her fundraising goal and she’d shave her head. (She also donated her hair to the charity, Locks of Love.)

Photo of Alex Cuc

Alex Cuc

“I chose the Food Depository because I wanted to support people most in need during this pandemic,” Cuc said.

Rocco Bartucci

Meet Rocco Bartucci of Park Ridge, who recently turned 15. Instead of asking for any gifts from his family and friends, Rocco asked for them to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Photo of Rocco Bartucci

Rocco Bartucci

He raised more than $1,200 in just a couple days.

“I don’t really need anything and it’s more helpful to other people than to myself,” said Bartucci, who attends Maine South High School.

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