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.

Teachers are some of the most important members of their communities. They educate our children, volunteer their time and resources, and work to make a difference every day. For the last few weeks, we’ve been honoring the hard work done by teachers across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Northside High teacher Brandi Clay hands out free PPE bags to students returning to classroom by Alece Courville. With most students across Louisiana heading back to the classroom for the upcoming school year, an Acadiana teacher is going above and beyond to make sure her students stay safe. Brandi Clay, a teacher at Northside High School, collected donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) from local organizations and businesses. Courville reports that the PPE bags contain hand sanitizer, disposable cloth masks, and sanitary wipes. The PPE bags are going to students in need who may not be able to afford their own. “As a concerned teacher, I wanted to make sure students are prepared to return and that we continue protecting our children,” said Clay. 

United Middle School students donate meals, hygiene products to first responders by Christian Alejandro Ocampo. In April, the old adage of “behind every good student is a good teacher” proved true at a middle school in Laredo, TX. As the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the country, STEM teacher Dora Garcia came up with an idea to teach her students about the importance of good deeds. Ocampo reports that, at the beginning of the school year, students at United Middle School (UMS) were asked to bring disinfecting wipes as a requirement to come back to school. With leftover supplies, Garcia asked her students if they would be willing to donate the leftover disinfecting wipes to first responders. With an overwhelming response, her class donated 70 bottles of the wipes to the Laredo Fire Department. That same day, the UMS cheerleading squad donated Chick-Fil-A meals to employees of the COVID unit at Laredo Medical Center using leftover money from a canceled field trip. “UMS students always have a warm heart and want to help out any way they can. It is not a surprise that it was all their ideas. We come together in times of need – this is us, this is them,” said UMS principal Rosana Arizola.

Warren teacher makes face shields, ear guards for healthcare workers by Maria Allard. Since the end of March, a teacher in Warren, MI has produced hundreds of face shields for local hospitals. Using a 3D printer and other supplies from her classroom at Chatterton Middle School, as well as another 3D printer that was donated to her by a generous friend, Sharon Sylvester stepped up to help her community. “I just want to be able to help any way I could,” said Sylvester. “I have so much respect for those that are on the front lines. This is a way to help people out.” 

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