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. 

Here are stories of public employees in service to their communities.

A bond built through chess: Fairfield families help peers at Bridgeport’s Batalla School by Josh LaBella. Since 2018, students from Cesar A. Batalla School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Riverfield Elementary and Roger Ludlowe Middle School students in Fairfield have met to play chess together in February and April every school year. When the coronavirus pandemic struck and schools shut down, its economic impact hit Bridgeport harder than the surrounding area. That’s when students and families from Riverfield and Roger Ludlowe stepped in to help by donating $6,500 of Stop & Shop gift cards for families of Batalla. Teacher Matt Tuccillo, the director of Riverfield Elementary and Roger Ludlowe Middle School chess programs, organized the donations. He commented, “It’s just the right thing at the right time. It could happen to anybody. It helps to have a helping hand, especially one that you didn’t expect. Nobody asked for any of this.”

Schools find ways to keep gardening lessons blooming by Katherine Roth. In Wisconsin, Susan Hobart, a retired elementary school teacher, oversees Lake View Elementary School’s 12 raised beds in their garden. Every spring, students plant the seedlings at their school in Madison, Wisconsin. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, Hobart found ways to keep their gardens growing with the help of community organizations, students, and volunteers. The seedlings are provided by a training program at a nearby state prison, a church group prepares the gardens during spring break, and AmeriCorps volunteers take care of the garden in the summer. Hobart commented, “The gardens relax the kids and give them a whole different perspective they wouldn’t have just sitting at [a] desk.”

Charleston Police to host its first back to school bash Thursday by Danielle Seat. The police department in Charleston, South Carolina, held an event with other community groups to ensure students have the proper school supplies and haircuts. They even had the COVID-19 vaccine on hand. Fredric Mallett, a police officer, commented, “You have to at least, you know, have some type of educational background to be able to go forward, and we want to provide them with that resource to know that it’s cool to go to school and know that its fun to actually be able to go to school and get your education.”

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