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.

Phoenix police officer donates plasma after tough fight with COVID-19 by Sonu Wasu. COVID-19 has exhausted supply lines across the country, including the much-needed supply of blood and plasma. As nonprofits, donor banks, and hospitals try to keep up, first responders in Arizona stepped in to donate at the end of last year. One of the donors was Phoenix Police Officer Santos Robles. Robles was hospitalized twice during his fight with the COVID-19 virus. “Convalescent plasma helped me, my symptoms were shortened because of it,” said Robles. Relying on five transfusions of convalescent plasma and other treatments, he credits it with saving his life. Now he’s giving back to save another life. “It was a day by day improvement. I do know this. It’s not the flu,” he continued. If you are eligible and interested in donating blood, please consider visiting the American Red Cross to find a blood drive near you. 

Creekview Elementary teacher starts care bag initiative for nurses, doctors by Alec Etheredge. A third-grade teacher in Alabaster, Alabama, has rallied her community and students to give something special to front-line workers. Teacher Ashlee Elliott sprang into action after hearing of overcrowded hospitals and strained staff from a Grandview Hospital COVID ICU nurse. Since September 6, her team of community volunteers has assembled 130 care bags that have been distributed to local hospitals. Each care bag contains various items, such as coffee and snacks, as well as a thank you note from her third-grade students. “I have always had a heart for service and community, and that’s where it really began,” Elliott said. “So I am always finding ways to get involved and give back to the community.”

Life on Pandemic Avenue: Raleigh teen’s book helps kids cope with COVID-19 by Jessica Patrick. Teachers have always had a positive impact on their students’ lives. When Ryan Markley, a senior at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, came up with the idea to write a children’s book about ways kids can combat loneliness during the pandemic, her teacher encouraged her to take on the project. “I am so grateful for my teachers, like my design teacher, Ms. Luna, who is the one who encouraged and pushed me to publish this, because it was out of my comfort zone. I’m so grateful that I did,” said Markley. The book, initially created for Markley’s 11th-grade design class, has sold 260 copies. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to help mental health groups and struggling educators. 

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