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.

Retired Poultney nurse coordinates mask manufacture by Keith Whitcomb. A retired nurse from Poultney, Vermont went above and beyond at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Melanie Lincoln Potter started a group called “Sew What?” that helped provide masks to local medical care professionals. Since then, she and a team of volunteers have been receiving donations and producing as many masks as they can. Potter said of the donations, “The other side of this, that I never saw coming, is the donations that are rolling in. Someone’s cousin who happens to be a retired banker sent $500 worth of gift cards yesterday; other people have sent $50, a former classmate of mine from high school had a check for three figures. I got it from my mailbox, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’ I came in the house, I opened it up, I sat at my kitchen table with tears rolling down my face. I never, I never imagined this.” 

Missouri City police spread birthday joy during distancing in an unexpected way by Rose-Ann Aragon. In April, the Missouri City Police Department in Texas tried to spread some happiness while families were at home due to the coronavirus. Police officers, equipped with their microphones and sirens went to residents’ homes to wish them a happy birthday. When officers surprised teacher Gaynel Centanni on her 67th birthday she was very thankful. “Oh, my goodness! I looked out the window and went, ‘Oh! Oh!'” Centanni said. “We’re all going through such hard times right now. I’m a teacher. I miss my students terribly.”

Teachers giving back: Spokane educators launch ‘spirit competition’ to raise money for SNAP by Wilson Criscione. The Spokane Neighborhood Action Program (SNAP), an organization that has been helping residents who can’t pay for their energy bills, received quite a boost from local teachers. A group of teachers from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington came together to raise money for SNAP through their “Keep the Lights On” spirit competition, setting an ambitious goal of $50,000.  Mark Robbins, one of the teachers involved in the effort commented, “I”m teaching full time. I’ve been teaching for a long time, I have a job right now that pays comfortably. I’m just in a position where I want to do something for other people.”

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