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 and school personnel 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 and school personnel across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NKY teachers boost students’ spirits with parade by Ashley Smith. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, teachers across the country held parades for their students to remind them that everything will be okay. Teachers from R.C. Hinsdale Elementary in Edgewood, Kentucky, decorated their cars and created signs as they visited neighborhoods where their students live. Dr. Angela Castleman, the elementary school’s principal, commented on the teachers’ efforts, “We have all heard the famous line from Mr. Rogers, ‘Look for the helpers.’ Our teachers are the helpers. Our teachers are amazing and we miss our kids.”

‘The demand is high, the need is great’: Howard teacher organizes donation drives to help during coronavirus pandemic by Ana Faguy. In Columbia, Maryland, a Spanish teacher from Wilde Lake High School took it upon herself to start a daily donation drive in March 2020. Utilizing Facebook to find out if members in her community needed supplies, from diapers to food, Erika Strauss Chavarria has done everything she can to help out. As of this writing, the Facebook group Strauss Chavarria created, Columbia Community Care, is still active and has over 7,000 members. Stauss Chavarria commented for the article in the Baltimore Sun, “We have a lot of need in our community. People don’t realize how much need there is in Howard County. [We need] to make sure our families were sustained in a steady fashion.”

Warren Hills robotics club thinks outside box, raises thousands to produce PPE by Desmond Boyle. First responders across the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania were pleased to know that the Warren Hills Robotics Association were doing their part to produce extra personal protective equipment (PPE) for them. Led by Warren Hills Regional High School teachers Adam Slack and Daryl Detrick, and Mount Olive engineering teachers Dave Bodmer and Matt Dunster, volunteers set their goal back in April 2020 to produce 26,000 face shields using 3D printers. Detrick commented on their efforts, “Our original goal was to produce 3,000 shields, then we jumped that to 10,000, then 15,000 and now we’re at 26,000. What we’ve done over the last two weeks pales in comparison to what those healthcare workers are doing every single day. We want to thank them. We really consider them our heroes.”

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