MESA (3TV/CBS 5) − A Mesa school lunch lady politely answered a 3TV's reporter’s questions about the school’s lunch program but it was all a set up to reward a family caregiver with a much-needed surprise.
“My aunt Mary is very, very special,” said Patricia. “None of my cousins can say, ‘She wasn’t there for me.’ She’s been there for all of us. Everyone needs somebody and she’s my somebody.”
“We’re going to give a big surprise to a woman who’s well deserving. Come on,” said Good Morning Arizona’s Javier Soto, as he led Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad cameras into the Crismon Elementary lunch room.
After interacting with the children, Soto made his way up the line to the salad bar and the lunch lady making sure the kids were filling their plates.
“What’s you name?” asked Soto.
“Mary Herrera,” she replied.
“What’s the best part of your day?” said Soto.
“Making sure the kids get their fruits and vegetables,” said Herrera. “Making sure they enjoy what we serve.”
“Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret,” said Soto softly. “Shhh, don’t say anything but we’re here, we’re going to surprise one of your co-workers, so don’t say anything. I’ll let you in on a secret. We’re with the Surprise Squad and you know that we do big surprises.”
Herrera nodded yes.
“Are you familiar with Arizona’s Family?” said Soto.
“Yes,” said Mary.
“So, we do these big surprises for people who are deserving, in need,” said Soto. “Have you ever been surprised by one of these surprises?”
Mary shook her head no, while her family quietly assembled behind her.
“No? Not until,” said Soto pointing behind her.
Mary turned around to see the crowd holding an Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad sign.
“Surprise!” shouted the crowd.
Mary cried out in shock, as her niece Patricia and two grand nephews moved in to hug her.
“Surprise!” laughed Soto. “Our Valley Toyota Dealers have partnered with Penguin Air and Plumbing. This is Jay right here and he will explain the surprise.”
“So, we’re going to go ahead and surprise you with a new heating and air conditioning system,” said Jay Kline, HVAC Manager, Penguin Air and Plumbing.
“Oh, thank you,” said Herrera, breaking into tears. “It’s what I’ve been working for! Oh, mija, thank you so much.”
“You deserve it,” said Patricia hugging her aunt. “You know you deserve it.”
“I take care of my sister and brother,” said Herrera. “They’re retired and they’re sick. She’s had some strokes and he’s had heart problems. I just started working to help out to maybe get the air on cause he needs it now, really bad.”
“Well, they’re going to do that for you,” said Patricia.
“Oh, thank you. Thank you very much,” said Herrera. “Oh, my god.”
“They’re going to do everything,” said Patricia. “They’re going to do the duct work, they’re going to do the air, they’re going to do everything.”
“There was fourteen of us and I’m the thirteenth and so I’m responsible for taking care of them,” said Herrera. “When my sister had her stroke, I had to start cutting down on my hours. For almost a year I had to do everything for her and he’s had heart issues, where we’ve had to call the paramedics. I couldn’t be working twelve hours and taking care of them, so I decided to go ahead and quit. So, I retired early. And now when we need the air conditioning, I told them I’m going to go back to work.”
“Your prayers have been answered,” said Soto.
“Oh, thank you. Thank you everybody, Channel 3, my family, everybody. Thank you very much!”
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad supplied duct work and a upgraded power box for the Herreras’ new system.
Thank you to Penguin Air and Plumbing for sponsoring the new heating and air-conditioning system and handling all installation.
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is sponsored by your Valley Toyota Dealers.