We talk a lot about everyday heroes on this site because there are so many who deserve to be acknowledged. If we can even be a tiny part of sharing their kindness with the world, then we’ve done our job. That being said, one of my personal favorites heroes so far, would have to be Mr. Haze Mabry, an 80-year-old janitor who is beloved by each and every one of the 800 students at the elementary school where he works.
Haze Mabry works as a janitor at Pike County Elementary School in Georgia.
Last week, on Mabry’s 80th birthday, the beloved janitor arrived at school to find almost 800 students lined up in the hallway singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and holding out handmade cards and banners.
Students rushed to hug Mabry and show him their creations, chanting “Mr. Haze! Mr. Haze!”
Mabry received so many cards they filled up several buckets and some students even walked behind him to help carry the load.
Overwhelmed by the display of affection, Mabry graciously thanked all of the students.
“They’re like my children,” Mabry told The Washington Post. “I’m like the old lady in the shoe.”
After 13 years as janitor of Pike County Elementary, Mabry knows most of the students at school. Many of them even confide in Mabry about how their day is going or what went down at recess.
“I know the little faces, but I don’t know every name,” Mabry said. “Some of them make you know them.”
Mabry said he didn’t have much planned for his birthday this year, so he was pleasantly surprised by the students’ gesture.
“I done had so many,” he said. “I’m just glad to be here.”
Reading teacher Lori Gilreath, whose three children graduated from Pike County, organized the surprise celebration for the “most loved person in the whole building.”
“He won’t brag on himself, but it doesn’t matter what he’s doing or where he is, he will always stop what he’s doing to take care of a child if that child is having a bad day,” Gilreath said.
Gilreath says Mabry is beloved by the students because he is a constant, kind presence in their lives. If a child approaches him, he stops everything he is doing to give them undivided attention.
“He doesn’t expect a lot,” Gilreath said. “He just wants to work hard and love on people.”
Mabry said he is still going through all of the students’ homemade cards because he wants to be sure to read each and every one.
One card, in particular, stuck out to Mabry. It reads, “Mr. Haze, you are my sunshine.”
“I feel the same way about them,” Mabry said.