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. 

Educators, students innovate PPE to help fight virus by Isaac Windes. At the onset of the pandemic, teachers across Texas came together to create face masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders. In his piece for My San Antonio, Windes covers the stories of several teachers’ efforts to give back. One of those teachers, Amanda Balla, a freshman science and robotics teacher at Vidor Independent School District, did her part. Not only did she donate masks for the students attending Lamar State College Orange, but she and her husband made mask bands and plastic shields using their 3D printer. They donated the PPE to hospitals, testing sites, and other facilities. Balla also involved her students in the process by giving them assignments to be innovative in creating PPE. 

North Smithfield couple donate stimulus money, challenge others by Lauren Clem. A Rhode Island teacher and former administrator are giving back to their community by donating their second-round stimulus check to those who need it. Bob and Lisa Sherman,  a retired school administrator and a current third-grade teacher at West Warwick Schools, respectively, donated $500 of their stimulus to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, $300 to a second charity, and they plan to take out $20 bills to give to servers in addition to the tips they already provide. Bob Sherman commented, “We don’t need it, and that means millions of people are getting this extra money that they’re working, they’re not in any real trouble, and all these people who aren’t working, they need it.” Bob and Lisa are now challenging others to do the same. 

Mom donates 8,000 ounces of breast milk during coronavirus pandemic by Kelly Hayes. A middle school teacher from Wilmington, North Carolina, has donated over 8,000 ounces, over 62 gallons, of breast milk since the pandemic began. After experiencing lactation issues with her first child, Katy Bannerman sought advice from a lactation consultant when she became pregnant with her second child. Due to the support from the consultant and support from friends and family, Bannerman had an oversupply after her second child was born. She then turned to social media and found the Port City Milk Fairy Facebook group, a mom-to-mom milk sharing group. She has since been able to donate all of her extra breast milk. Bannerman commented, “Having the support system from my family and friends was the total contributing factor to my success.” 

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