Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping 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.

From daring rescues to medical breakthroughs, here are 12 of the happiest stories of 2021 by Chelsea Cox. In a long-form article for USA Today, journalist Chelsea Cox wrote about twelve inspiring stories in 2021. One of those stories is from Boutte, Louisiana, where a teacher lent his shoes to a student in need. When a senior at Hahnville High School was about to walk across the stage at his graduation, an administrator stopped him and said he could not proceed because he was not wearing the proper footwear according to school policy. In a panic, the student ran to teacher John Butler for help. “So then it becomes a no brainer to me, a no more questions asked scenario. I gave him the shoes on my feet,” Butler said. 

A teacher learned one of her students might go hungry over winter break. She now feeds thousands of kids each year by Cathy Free. When Turquoise LeJeune Parker, an elementary school teacher in Durham, North Carolina, received a phone call from a concerned parent six years ago, she jumped into action. The parent of one of her students was unsure she would be able to feed her children over winter break since they relied on free school breakfasts and lunches. “This mom told me she wasn’t worried about herself, but she couldn’t let her kids go without food for those two weeks,” Parker recalled. “I told my husband about it, and we knew we had to do something.” At that moment, six years ago, she and her husband went to the grocery store to buy the family food, but they had larger ideas when they thought of all of the families that would be struggling over winter break. Since then, Parker and her husband have amassed an army of volunteers and donations to give back to their community each year. This year alone, she and her husband have raised $106,000 and had a group of 70 volunteers bag groceries to send home with 5,200 students as they started winter break. “Food inequality is systemic and that’s not okay,” Parker said. “Giving children food for their Christmas break is not a lavish thing — this is food we’re talking about. The well-being of our community is directly related to the well-being of our children. We have to fight for each other.”

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