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.

HFD kicks off holiday toy drive with COVID-related changes by Anna Bauman. For years, the Houston Fire Department has facilitated “Operation Stocking Stuffer” to ensure every child has a toy to unwrap on Christmas Day. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, firefighters are determined to continue their tradition of bringing joy to children across the Houston area. This year, with corporate sponsors’ help, Bauman reports that firefighters hope to provide toys to 20,000 children. “Operation Stocking Stuffer is really an opportunity for us to bring a little joy, a little happiness to thousands of kids throughout Houston every year,” said Fire Chief Samuel Pena at a news conference.

Syracuse teachers, friends, strangers step up to help student who lost home in fire by Jacob Pucci. In Syracuse, New York, third-grade teacher Alyssa Cortina and other teachers rose to the occasion to help out a student’s grieving family after they lost their home to a house fire. When Cortina received the news, she drove to her student’s house to show her support. Cortina commented on her visit, “I wanted to tell her I’m here for her.” Since then, Cortina and other teachers have raised more than $3,200 and donated food to the family to help them get by. The family is now living in a hotel as they seek another place to live, but Cortina and her colleagues continue to support them. 

Police officer buys groceries for elderly woman and her disabled son who had no food at home by Alaa Elassar. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Warwick Police Department in Rhode Island received a call from an older adult in distress: she had no food. Answering the call, officer Jill Marshall offered to go grocery shopping for the family. Elassar reports that when Marshall arrived at Shaw’s grocery store, management provided her with a $25 gift card to help out. When other patrons at the store heard what was going on, they chipped in, and Marshall bought over $100 worth of groceries. Marshall commented, “I was ready to use my own money to help them but the generosity of those shopping and (grocery store) Shaw’s paid for her list. I would have never left them and make them wait for food. That’s just not humane.”

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