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.

Temple: VA’s ‘Garland of Hope’ helps unemployed vets and families by Alex Gibbs. Veterans in Temple, Texas, are receiving a little help this holiday season. This year, the Temple Veterans Administration is running its ‘Garland of Hope’ toy drive to ensure the children of unemployed veterans will have a toy. Sheena Moore, an Army veteran and social worker in Temple, leads the effort. Moore commented, “Now more than ever, due to the season we’re in, veterans and everyone is really struggling a lot. We see that and I want to help them the best way that I can.”

Meet Wavely, Tupelo High School’s therapy dog in training by Blake Alsup. A special education teacher from Tupelo High School in Mississippi, Anne Marie Goad, had always wanted to get a therapy dog for her students. Goad’s dream came true in August when a Goldendoodle puppy needed a home. Since Wavely’s adoption, Goad has been utilizing local trainers so the puppy can be certified as a therapy dog by May 2021. Still, Wavely has already become a staple at the school as she gets acclimated with the students. Goad commented, “Sometimes the most unloveable kids need the most love, and I think a dog could be a bridge to that, in getting to the root of what’s hurting them so bad inside to cause them to act out.”

Oneida faculty aids Karing Kitchen by Charles Pritchard. Every year, the Oneida High School student council manages a canned food drive for the Karing Kitchen, a local soup kitchen. Since most of the school district is practicing virtual education during the coronavirus pandemic, the school’s faculty has stepped in to help the students’ efforts by holding a competition to see which school district buildings’ faculty could raise the most money. Chris Meeker, who is a special education teacher and advisor to the student council, commented, “Even though it’s stopped our school year, there are people who rely on donations like these to get through the holiday season. [The student council] wanted to help the families in need, even if we couldn’t do our typical drive. We didn’t want to see anyone go without this holiday season.”

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