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.  

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

‘Stuff the squad cars’ virtual book drive underway by Kyle Kotecki. A former elementary school teacher from Manistee County, Texas is going the extra mile to ensure children are continuing to develop their reading skills during the coronavirus pandemic. Brittany Genther came up with the idea of putting books into the hands of children by working with local law enforcement to distribute the reading material to children. “I have been really struggling the last few months trying to rack my brain on how I can help make the world a better place in such a heartbreaking time,” said Genther. “After about a month of feeling helpless, I thought this was a way I could possibly be a part of bringing our community together that is within my means,” she continued. Josh Glass, who is the police chief of Manistee Police Department, who Genther is working with to distribute the books, commented, “I think the key for us is utilizing the books to develop a positive relationship between our officers and our young people in our community. I think that whenever you invest time and money into our youth, that’s time and money that is absolutely well spent.”

Community members donate school supplies to Sand Springs teacher by Sawyer Buccy. As teachers around the country are gearing up to return to school, either in-person or virtually, many are in need of school supplies. In Sand Springs, Oklahoma, community members have been stepping up to ensure teachers, such as Limestone Technology Academy teacher Shannon Crutcher, have the supplies they need. When the pandemic first struck in March, Crutcher, along with other teachers in the Sand Springs School District, drove to their students’ neighborhoods to show their support. Speaking of her readiness to start the school year, Crutcher said, “There are 3 things I want them to have in my classroom: I want to make sure that they feel safe. I want to make sure that they feel loved and I want to make sure they get a good, quality education. Whatever I have to do to make those three things happen, that is what I am going to focus on.”

He’s risked his life as a Detroit firefighter. But having coronavirus was worse by Jamie L. LaReau. Public employees across the nation have put their lives and their family’s lives on the line during this pandemic. For Detroit firefighter, Najuma Fulton the pandemic hit right at home. In April, LaReau reported for the Detroit Free Press that just after Fulton’s mother passed away from coronavirus complications, his wife was in the hospital due to the virus, and he himself was at home struggling with symptoms after a positive test. Comparing his service to having the virus, Fulton said, “I’ve fallen off roofs and fallen through floors … I’ve broken bones, I’ve bled for the fire department. I’ve battled chemical spills and overturned tankers. Having COVID-19 is worse. That’s the simplest way I can put it. How can you fight an enemy you can’t see? At least with fire you can see it, you can hear the potential creaks in the floor to know the floor is going to give away or the ceiling is going to give. You can’t gauge this because it affects every person differently. It’s very scary.” Stories like LaReau’s are a good reminder of the sacrifices that public employees have made during this pandemic. 

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