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Appreciating the unsung heroes keeping schools clean and safe

Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 21:51:34-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- They work while we sleep.

Sometimes we walk around them in the halls, not noticing them or the hard work they do.

But one local elementary school is making sure its custodians feel appreciated for Custodian Appreciation Day.

At Everglades Elementary School, there’s a group of people on the front lines for the war on germs, cleaning up after every lunch break and every accident on campus.

“I nicknamed this one cookie monster because he eats up all the cookies on the floor," jokes Elizabeth Pilch, who helps clean up the cafeteria during lunch break. “I just want to keep it as clean for the kids, just as I would want it for my son.”

“We have to work very hard! For the school, for everybody," said Huberto Machado, a lead custodian at the school.

It’s the custodians, the unsung heroes who clean up every imaginable mess in offices and schools. The ones who oftentimes may fade into the noise of everyday life for students.

But not at Everglades.

Head custodian Pedro De La Cruz and his team are being honored for National Custodian Appreciation Day this week.

“Pedro is funny and he makes other kids feel welcome," said Eden Moonsammy, 2nd grader. “They take care of us.”

The students like to show that appreciation all year. They’ve all known him since kindergarten.

“He makes us all laugh and I’ve like all the years I’ve had with him," said 5th grader Emily Meyer.

“If you’re having a bad day, they make you happy again," said 5th grader Mackenzye Collins.

De La Cruz has worked as a custodian for 12 years.

“You know, we take care of you," he said.

He says the students and staff returned the favor and gave him the strength to overcome a battle with liver cancer.

“They collected money for me, they take care of me," he said. "The kids say, ‘Pedro, you'll be OK. We'll pray for you.”

The students hope every school can also make sure these hard workers are never overlooked or forgotten.

“Just give them a hug. Stop what you’re doing and just give them a hug," said Meyer.