Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have always been there when their community needs them the most. 

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. 

Rural community stands ‘Estacada Strong’ in face of wildfires, pandemic and loss by Jaimie Ding. The coronavirus pandemic, wildfires, a heavy ice storm, and the loss of a beloved teacher brought an Oregon community together even more than ever before. Yet, through all of the hardships, the small rural city of Estacada stood together as they confronted a wide variety of challenges. During the wildfires, local businesses provided food for those who needed it, teachers reached out to their students’ families to make sure they were alright, and bus drivers chipped in to bring food to families’ doorsteps. Kari Hulsey, a fourth-grade teacher at Clackamas River Elementary, commented, “It still makes me choke up thinking about how amazing the outpouring that came out of our community was.”

Teachers help feed students and families in Watertown by Brian Dwyer. The Watertown City School District (CSD) has been hosting their “Food 4 Families” backpack program for years in their small community. With the help of teachers, each week, the district bags up food for children throughout the area who may be experiencing food insecurity. Watertown CSD Superintendent Stacey Eger commented, “Food insecurity is not a problem that’s going to go away in the short term. Our goal is to continually address this and make sure our family’s needs are met as best as we are able to support them.” Although canceled last year due to the coronavirus, staff from the school district host a golf tournament each year to raise money for the program. The United Way also gives funds for the program. This year, the staff are excited to host the golf tournament to raise funds on June 19th. Watertown City School teacher Stacey Kelley said, “It’s going to be a great day of golf, a ton of fun and we’re helping a really great cause.”

Hinesburg teacher works to help Ugandan families during the coronavirus pandemic by Dan D’Ambrosio. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a teacher from Hinesburg, Vermont, did her best to keep her Ugandan charity alive. Five years ago, Hinesburg Community School fifth-grade teacher Mary Muroski launched a non-profit called the Children’s Legacy Partnership which seeks to educate the children in and around Kamuli, Uganda. With a travel ban in effect, Muroski wanted to do as much as possible to help families. Facing an extreme food shortage during the pandemic, Muroski raised $1,800 from donors, which is enough to supply food for 300 families for a month. Muroski commented, “We’re talking basic. Corn flour, salt, sugar, beans, soap, face masks and educational materials around reducing the spread of the virus.” In Uganda, a small team of five people distributed the food to the neediest families directly. “We didn’t want the hundreds of kids we’re supporting to suffer from malnutrition,” Muroski said.

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