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 our communities. They educate our children, volunteer their time and resources, and work to make a difference every day. This week, we will be honoring the hard work done by teachers across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A 26-year-old Connecticut middle school teacher is spending his days shopping for those who can’t during the coronavirus pandemic by Lori Riley. Using Facebook Messenger and email to take grocery orders, Louis Goffinet, an eighth-grade science teacher at Lebanon Middle School in Mansfield, Connecticut, has been shopping for people who are unable to go to the store themselves free of charge. Reporting for the Hartford Courant, Riley writes that Goffinet started out by grocery shopping for an elderly couple he knows. From there, he found himself making grocery trips for about 30 families in his community. Not only was Goffinet grocery shopping for families free of charge, but he also raised $7,000 to help families who were unable to afford groceries due to job furloughs. Goffinet commented, “There’s been so many requests, it comes out to about three days a week. Each shopping trip from start to finish is just over an hour. It adds up pretty quick as far as a time commitment, maybe 15-18 hours per week.”

Ann Arbor residents create face shields for medical professionals on the front lines by Brayden Hirsch. Earlier this year, teachers from Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan came together to create face shields for medical professionals using 3D printers from their schools. Using a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase the supplies to make the face masks, engineering teacher Rob Cupit was able to raise $3,975 for the effort – almost three times his goal. On the page he wrote, “We have a lot of masks to print and not a lot of time to make them. People needed them last week and we just can’t keep up with the demand. The advantages of 3D printing are definitely cost and usability. You don’t have to be an engineer to use this equipment.”

Broomfield teacher takes volunteer workout classes online for school year, beyond by Jennifer Rios. A physical education teacher in Broomfield, Colorado went beyond holding her twice-a-day online exercise classes for her middle school students during the pandemic, and decided to help keep her colleagues in shape. Before the pandemic, Monica Tuz, who teaches at Aspen Creek K-8, held volunteer workout classes for teachers and other school personnel after school. When the pandemic began, she taught the classes online for her peers. Tuz commented, “I didn’t know if people would be interested, so I just texted a couple of friends. They said yes, so I put it out to the whole staff.”

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