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 three stories of public employees committed to servicing their community:

Mr. Fonicello is the reason Ashlie Forsberg is a teacher today by Ellyn Santiago (submitted by Ashlie Forsberg). Writing for the Branford, CT Patch, 4th grade teacher Ashlie Forsberg recounts the incredible impact one of her former teachers had on her life. From Kindergarten to 3rd grade, Forsberg suffered from anxiety, but when she met her 4th grade teacher, Mr. Fonicello, that all changed. She wrote, “Mr. Fonicello made me love school, a place I finally felt comfortable and looked forward to going to. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up from 4th grade on, my response was always, ‘a teacher.’ I don’t know if Mr. Fonicello really knew the positive influence he had on me, that is…. Until today.” Forsberg received a call from Mr. Fonicello, who has kept in touch over the years, to say that he was retiring this year and would like to donate all of his 4th grade classroom supplies to her. “Today I picked up these materials from Mr. Fonicello and told him the influence he had on me, that he is the reason I am a teacher today,” wrote Forsberg.

Bender’s Crusade: Clarkstown police officer who had leg amputated runs for fundraisers by News 12 Staff. After losing a limb in a motorcycle accident last year, a Clarkstown, New York police officer is raising funds for two charities. Officer Matthew Bender, a Marine veteran and 20-plus-year veteran police officer, is running in an upcoming Tough Mudder race while raising funds for the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Life by Music charity. “I’m not going to let anything stop me. Actually, while I was still in the hospital after they told me they’re going to have to amputate my leg, I actually signed up for the [Tough] Mudder because I was going to prove that this wasn’t going to stop me,” Bender said. So far, he has raised over $2,000 for the foundation and charity. 

Johnston-McQueen Elementary students have a new place to get shoes, clothes on campus by Kristine Guevara. In Longview, Texas, Johnston-McQueen Elementary School P.E. teacher Rochelle Northcutt saw her students needed gym shoes for her class. “I would have numerous kids that would come up to me and ask me if I had shoes because theirs were either too big because they were having to wear their parent’s shoes, or they’re too small,” says Northcutt. That’s when Northcutt and community members stepped in to contact the nonprofit Communities in Schools. The nonprofit seeks to find ways to ensure students stay confident in the classroom. Since then, the school has started a closet that students can use to find donated items such as uniforms and other clothing. Donations come from community members, teachers, and parents.