During the COVID-19 pandemic, public employees across the nation have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have been on the front lines during this pandemic. We wanted to take some time to highlight their work. 

Here are stories of public employees in service to their communities from last week. 

We see you: Independence teacher delivers donated bicycles to students by Bryant Maddrick. A physical education teacher from Kansas City, Missouri has given back to her students while they are in isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stacey Huffington collected around 200 bicycles and almost 150 have been given to students so far. Speaking to KSHB in Kansas City, Huffington said, “Some of them would jump right on and start riding. Some would be still in shock and thank me. It’s a little bit of everything. A lot of shock, but a lot of surprise and excitement.” Additionally, Maddrick reports that Huffington partnered with BikeWalkKC to teach the children receiving bikes about bike safety on the roads.

Health care heroes: Saluting front-line workers in the battle against the coronavirus by Connecticut Magazine. It’s no secret that health care workers across the country have heeded the call to protect their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. In a wide-ranging piece, Connecticut Magazine highlights health care workers who have gone above and beyond during this crisis. Here are a few to mention:

Shannon Harvill: Paramedic and emergency department nurse. When she takes a call to help someone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, she says, “I say to people, ‘I know I have a lot of funny stuff on my face. My name is Shannon. I’m a paramedic taking you to the hospital because you or your family said you weren’t feeling well. Do you understand me?’”

Kali Pelligrino and Kelly Gaffney: Both are nurses at The Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. Gaffney, when describing why she became a nurse, says, “I knew I’d be exposing myself and potentially my family at home to the virus if I volunteered, but ultimately I chose nursing as a profession to help other people, and this is clearly a time when others are in dire need of our help. So I really just wanted to join the fight.”

The art teacher in quarantine by Angela Deines. In a piece for the Kansas-National Education Association (KNEA) blog, Deines writes about how teachers across the state are reaching their students using short YouTube videos. Hannah Hurst, an art teacher from Lawrence, has been creating funny videos to teach her students about famous artists. “They are mostly a good part of developing the story which is hugely helpful. They also keep me from making a total fool of myself,” she said. Sabrina Casper, a 2nd-grade teacher from Clear Creek Elementary, has taken it a step further by creating videos of chicks hatching and butterflies feeding on oranges. On using YouTube as a tool, Casper said, “One of the hardest things for me about being a teacher is to keep up with technology. It’s coming faster and faster but I think I’ve done a pretty good job with it. I have some wonderful colleagues on my team and they’re a little younger. I’ve shared my wisdom and they’ve shared their tech skills with me.”

Thank you: Huron Valley Schools distributes 100K meals. Huron Valley Schools, located in Highland, Michigan, has distributed over 100K meals to students since March. Teachers, staff, and administrators have participated in the Grab & Go Student Meals program. Geoffrey VanGoethem, who is the assistant superintendent of business and operations, said, “We know many students in our school district — about 30 percent — rely on the free and reduced-cost meals they receive at school each day, so it was important to get this program off the ground quickly.” Additionally, Superintendent Paul Salah praised the school’s staff when he said, “HVS staff members have stepped up in so many ways to help ease the impact of COVID-19 — whether through teaching and learning, handing out Chromebooks or distributing meals.” According to the article, the program is funded by grants from the Michigan Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

NH police officer donates COVID-19 first responder stipend to community by Nestor Mato. Rochelle Jones, a police officer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is donating her $300 a week first responder stipend to local charities and the area restaurant relief fund. Mato reports that the program, implemented by Governor Chris Sununu and made possible by CARES Act funding, provides first responders a $150 to $300 stipend from May 1 to the end of June. On donating her stipend, the 17-year veteran Jones said, “I am doing everything that I absolutely can. I’m born and raised in this neighborhood, in the community I work in. So it’s not just a job for me.”

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!