For Victor Lew, this past year has been a learning experience.

Through his volunteer work, Lew’s not only learned more about the need in his community. He’s also learned more about himself and his priorities in life.

“It’s a lot easier to give to other people, it’s much more fulfilling, than many people understand,” Lew said.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lew, 53, has become one of the Food Depository’s regular volunteers, coming in each week to pack food for those facing hunger across Cook County. Lew is also one of the first faces Food Depository volunteers and staff see every Friday morning – a cheerful ambassador welcoming everyone who walks in the doors.

Since last April, he has logged nearly 200 volunteer hours.

Lew, who lives in Deerfield with his wife and three children, felt compelled to sign up for his first session after the initial shelter-in-place orders went into effect. As a partner for his family-owned architecture firm, he had his own worries about how his business was going to make it through the pandemic. While they saw some loss in those early months, he said, it didn’t compare to the economic hardships people across the city and country were facing.

“What we’re heading into is really, really awful,” he recalled thinking at the time. “And I thought, I can’t just stand by passively and just watch. I need to get out there, and I want to do something. I want to contribute to society in any way that I can.”

Victor Lew repacking oranges during a recent volunteer session.

Victor Lew repacking oranges during a recent volunteer session.

That passion to help his neighbors amid crisis was what got him started. But Lew said the positive energy he feels when he comes through the Food Depository doors is what keeps him coming back week after week.

“The few hours I spend here once a week, it does some good for families,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. But along the way, it’s taken on a life of its own where I’ve made friendships, relationships, and I feel like I’m a part of a bigger process.”

While packing some of the thousands of emergency food boxes that the Food Depository produces nearly every day, Lew takes pride in the small details – keeping in mind the families that will open each box as he carefully places the items inside. Between the fulfillment he feels from helping these families in need, as well as the community that’s been built among the mainstay volunteers, he said he plans to stick around long after the worst of COVID-19 is over.

“There are tons of people out here for the same exact reasons,” he said. “We all come from very different backgrounds, but it’s really wonderful to see.”

The Food Depository is in constant need of volunteers to support our mission of ending hunger. Please learn more and register to volunteer today.