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.

Sioux City police officer helps patients fighting COVID-19 by Marina Bach. At the onset of the pandemic, front line workers such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other public employees didn’t hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way. After several members of the Sioux City Police Department tested positive for the coronavirus, they all went into quarantine to protect the rest of the department and the public. Steven TenNapel, one of the officers who tested positive and quarantined, wanted to give back once he was given the all-clear to return to work. When TenNapel found out that he had coronavirus antibodies and he was able to help patients by donating his plasma, he sprung into action. TenNapel commented, “Just my donation can help three or four people in the hospital. That is huge and it’s a no brainer. It takes 45 minutes to make a difference.”

Education alumnus raises thousands for Waimanalo students impacted by COVID-19 by the University of Hawaii (UH) News. We don’t often write about stories from a university’s website, but this one was too good not to. Damian Shearer, a fourth-grade teacher at Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate School in Hawaii and an alumnus of the University of Hawaii, created a GoFundMe page for his students that has raised thousands of dollars throughout the pandemic. Shearer commented, “Every day, I was seeing how this pandemic was hurting many families around the world and here in my community, and I wanted to try and do something to help. I had started by giving in my own small way to the local church, United Way and other donation sites, but I soon realized that my individual donations would only help a few people before I could no longer afford to do it.”

Procession of teachers and staff travels 74 miles to celebrate school’s perseverance through pandemic by Ernie Clark. At the end of the school year, last June, teachers and staff from SeDoMoCha Middle and Elementary Schools toured the school district to visit their students – and traveled 74 miles to do so. The caravan, which included a school bus and vehicles, took almost three hours to get through all of the towns throughout the school district. Diane Stephen, a teacher at the elementary school, commented, “Everybody has just stepped up to this challenge, and I think it’s brought us closer together as a community. There’s definitely an appreciation for both sides more now. I know I thank my [students’] parents every single day because I don’t know how they’re doing it.”

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