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. 

With extra time during pandemic, Ames quilters create special gifts for school students in need by Phillip Sitter. Quilters from Ames, Iowa held their first in-person meeting last week to collect quilts for local students in need from the Ames Community School District. The group, called Block Builders, has not met since the pandemic began, but the quilters have been hard at work over the last year. Phyllis Schrag, a former teacher and co-chair of the group, commented, “It is our hope that by giving a quilt, the recipient will feel valued and loved. We are planting seeds of hope for that child’s bright future.”

Burger sale back for Lions by Will Blackburn. Vice District Governor for the Lions Clubs of Kentucky and former teacher for the visually impaired, Verna Sharp, has been giving back to her community for years. This past weekend, Verna and her club set up a hamburger sale at the Pennington’s Food Fair in Flatwoods, Kentucky to sell hamburgers to the community. Some of the proceeds from the hamburger sale will be donated to give hearing aids, eyeglasses, and medical devices to members of the community in need. Sharp commented, “We know everyone is looking for something good to do. They’ve been cooped up, and they want to connect with the world again. The Lions Club is a great way to do that because we are giving service back to our community.”

Student art thrives in spite of COVID by Lorelei Goff. In Greene County, Tennessee, the annual spring high school art show will be held online for the second year in a row because of the pandemic. But that’s not holding teachers and art students back from showcasing their work to the community. Excited for the opportunity to let the community view their art alongside professional artists, students are participating in large numbers. South Greene High School art teacher Colleen Bowman commented, “It builds up self confidence to show in a professional exhibit. It gives them an opportunity to show what they can do in art and just how creative they are.” Art has allowed students to grow their abilities especially during the pandemic. Bowman continued, “As an art teacher, my kids show me their art all the time. Art is another great outlet for students to explore, to get recognition, to show their talent. Art in schools is an opportunity to express themselves and get recognition.”

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