HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- After 48 years of service, Henrico County School Crossing Guard Virgina Haden helped Carver Elementary students safely across the street for the last time Friday. Henrico Police came to honor Haden on her last day and presented her with The Chief's Eagle Award, the Challenge Coin, and flowers.
Henrico Police Chief Humberto Cardounel Jr. presented the awards alongside a crowd of officers.
"We want to say 'thank you,'" Chief Cardounel said. "We want to congratulate you on your 48 years of selflessness and dedication to Henrico County."
Haden started her employment with Henrico County on September 2, 1970. She served at Carver Elementary School since 1985.
"Here 48 years later -- I'm still doing this because I love the children," said Haden. "Met so many lovely parents and grandparents."
Police weren't the only ones to congratulate Haden on her retirement. Students, parents, neighbors, all stopped by -- bringing gifts, hugs, and tears.
"She's done a lot for our family actually. So it's not just crossing," Christina Hamilton said after watching Haden cross one of her daughters for the last time.
"She helped me when I was in my roughest time," Alexis Adkins, Hamilton's daughter, said.
Hamilton said their family moved to the area three years ago, and became friends with Haden quickly.
"We live right up the road so we didn’t feel like riding a bus made any sense. So we decided to cross -- and it just started from there," said Hamilton. "She’s so friendly and happy and easy to get to know."
Hamilton and her daughters were one of several families to stop by Friday morning with a gift.
"It’s hard to say goodbye. I’m going to be crying too this afternoon like everybody else," said Haden. "Don’t come and take pictures of me this afternoon."
Officers clapped as Haden crossed students for the last time.
When asked if their was anything she wanted to say to the students she had met over the years, Haden responded.
"Thank you for being such a special part of my life. I will never forget you."