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 communities need 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. 

Bozeman High students continue raising money for solar schools by Gail Schontzler. Last April, when the coronavirus pandemic forced Montana’s Bozeman High School to cancel its 50th anniversary celebration of Earth Day, students and advisors continued raising money to add solar panels to the school district’s buildings. Six students from the high school’s Solar Schools Club raised roughly $7,000 for the effort. The rest of the money will come from grants and a voter-approved building fund. Science teacher and club advisor Miles McGeehan commented, “Students realize pollution doesn’t know boundaries. We’re doing our part to contribute in any way we can.” 

Lexington Park Elementary garden helps local shelter by Caleb M. Soptelean. For the last two and a half years, Lexington Park Elementary in St. Mary’s County, Maryland has been growing food in their garden and donating the produce to the Three Oaks Center homeless shelter. The effort, which involves students in every grade, staff, and teachers, has continued throughout the pandemic. Third-grade teacher Philip Gibson and school nurse Laurie Lancaster help keep the garden running throughout the year. “This is like the little garden that could,” says Gibson.

Volunteers and donors ignore heat, smoke and COVID-19 to give to Little Red Schoolhouse by Leo Brine. In Olympia, Washington, a radio station and volunteers raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Little Red Schoolhouse’s annual fundraiser. Last Friday, members of the community dropped off barrels full of school supplies and cash donations. The fundraiser and donation event has been occurring for over a decade, and typically, families are welcome to attend the Little Red Schoolhouse’s Distribution Day. But, in light of COVID protocols, the non-profit will send the supplies directly to schools. Debbie Haddock, a retired Komachin Middle School teacher, has been volunteering at the event for the last 16 years. Haddock commented, “Hopefully next year we’ll get to see the families come through the doors and pick up supplies.”

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