EATON — Girl Scout Troops 30754 and 33152 gathered on Monday, Nov. 4, to dedicate a staff picnic bench at Hollingsworth-East Elementary School in the honor of Alejandra Margarita Hurd.
With the help of Eaton Police Department, the two troops collected, sorted, and cleaned 500 pounds of bottle caps for the project.
Margarita Hurd passed away in March of this year after battling cancer. She was many things, including an avid walker and a devoted Christian. She also worked as a custodian for Hollingsworth-East, where she dearly loved the children. It was this love of the children she served that lead to the dedication ceremony on Monday.
Girl Scout Troops 30754 and 33152 primarily attend Hollingsworth East Elementary and many of the members interacted with and loved Margarita Hurd. To honor her memory, they worked with Eaton Police Department to collect caps to be recycled into a picnic table for Hollingsworth East Elementary. Detective Pete Wray partnered with the troops to collect caps from the community.
Girl Scout Troop 33152 Leader Kim DeVilbiss and Girl Scout Troop 30754 Leaders Melinda Moore and Teah Emrick organized and lead the ceremony.
“Margarita was very dear to our hearts. Talking to our girls, most of what they had to say about her was that they loved giving her hugs, they liked that she smiled so much, and she helped keep their school beautiful,” DeVilbiss said. “Many of these girls truly saw her as a friend. My daughter told me that Margarita didn’t call the kids by name all of the time — she often called them ‘sweetie’ or ‘beautiful babies.’
“That makes me laugh a little, because when my son was four we were talking to Margarita in the cafeteria and as she was about to leave for the day, she told him, ‘Bye, beautiful baby.’ He looked at her and said, ‘Don’t you know that my name is Jacob?’ Her response was, ‘Yes, I do, but all kids are beautiful babies.’
“A few years ago, after our spirit wear sale was over, Margarita came to me and asked if it was too late to buy a zip-up jacket. She went on to tell me that she had noticed one of the students had a coat with a broken zipper and it was starting to get cold. She ordered him one to wear under his coat and told me to give it to him, but not to tell him that she had bought it.
“When our girls found out she passed, they wanted to do something special in her memory. We talked about planting a tree, having a plaque made to hang in the office, or maybe paint rocks to put in the courtyard, just to name a few [ideas]. They had so many ideas of how to remember their friend. Finally, we settled on replacing the staff picnic table.
“The girls decided on a table because Margarita would always care enough to ask you how you were doing, even if it was in passing because she was always busy. This way, in memory of her, maybe people can take the time to sit and discuss how their day is going with each other, as she surely would have been doing.”
DeVilbiss added, in working with EPD they were able to set up multiple drop off locations throughout town for the caps.
“Thanks to the community, we collected almost double what we needed! The girls, along with their families, cleaned and sorted over 500 pounds of plastic caps to be recycled into this table. The girls didn’t seem to really like cleaning the caps, but just as Margarita cleaned the school and made it beautiful, they were willing to clean these caps for her, because they knew the caps were going to be turned into something beautiful too,” she said.
“We hope the staff at Hollingsworth East Elementary will be able to use if for a very long time and remember how important it is to see how one another is, or simply to take a rest before going back to educating all these ‘beautiful babies.’”
Margarita Hurd’s family was there for the dedication ceremony. At press time, her husband — Allen Hurd — recalled memories from her life and reflected on what it means to him to have her remembered in this way.
The Hurd’s had been married for a total of 47 years.
“Margarita passed from breast cancer and we didn’t even know [she was diagnosed]. She hid it from everybody for a year and a half — she never went to the hospital and never took a pill for pain or nothing. She loved the Lord. She always told everybody that she was a simple lady who loved the Lord with all her heart. If anybody ever asked her at school how she felt, she would tell them she was blessed, no matter how she felt. She worked up until she fell down at school and they made her leave,” he said.
“She went walking — she loved to walk. She used to jog when she was younger. She worked up to a month before she passed. She walked every night. Finally, one day, she told my daughter, ‘I think this will be the last day I walk until I feel a little better.’ She never got to walk again.”
They took her to the hospital when her breathing got labored. The doctors called her a “walking miracle” for all she did while being sick.
“I’ll tell you something miraculous I saw one night. We were watching TV and the only light in the room was the TV and the clock. I saw a glow on her forehead – it was a cross on her forehead. I couldn’t believe I was seeing that – I thought it was coming from the room, but there wasn’t anything other light. All at once, she put her head down, and the cross stayed there,” he said.
When asked about the picnic table, Allen Hurd said he knew she made an impact on the community, but it made him “proud” to see her recognized.
“She just loved them girls. She always talked about the girl scout girls, cause she always set up everything for them at the school. My son told me they were collecting the caps and it really surprised me. I was really proud they recognized her this way. I didn’t think anybody was going to do anything, and it really surprised me,” he said.
“I knew she made an impact on a lot of people. She gave away everything — I knew about the coat, she told me about that. She bought kids their lunches when they didn’t have something to eat. She always did that. She was always generous to everybody. She gave away more than half of her paycheck. She was a very generous lady and I miss her dearly, but I know I’m going to see her again.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH