Volunteering is a full-time job for food bank worker

Ted Rock considers volunteering something of a full-time job. Clocking in more than 75 hours a month, he spends his time driving trucks and loading food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, teaching kids about bees at Garfield Park Conservatory, helping with the Christmas tree ship that delivers trees to Chicago kids and coordinating the many activities of the junior naval ROTC in the city.

Rock spent 31 years in the Navy, joining up at the tender age of 17. He retired 31 years later. He now coordinates the training local Naval ROTC students conduct on the Navy League’s ship in DuSable Harbor. “It’s a full-fledged naval training vessel and it’s completely run by volunteers,” he says. Through the Navy League, he became involved with the Christmas Ship, where he has volunteered for the past 10 years.

At the Greater Chicago Food Depository, where he volunteers most of his time, Rock and his wife Valerie, who also volunteers, repack food and drive produce trucks to deliver fresh food to local pantries. “It’s a great organization and they do a lot of good in Chicago. There’s a lot of hunger and poverty here and they try to fill that gap,” he says.

Rock and Valerie have five children between them and eight grandchildren. It was only natural that their volunteer work revolves around helping children.

“I don’t know that we sat down and said, ‘Let’s volunteer with stuff with kids’ but it’s who we are,” Rock says. “We’re both retired and volunteering is probably our occupation.”

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