SPRING HILL — Crossing guard Rick Costagliola was surprised when he received an unexpected muffin and cup of coffee one recent morning — right there on the corner where traffic turns into Explorer K-8 School from Northcliffe Boulevard.
Explorer K-8 kindergartener Arianna Durrum, 6, presented the muffin to Costagliola on a silver tray. With her were Explorer K-8 physical education teacher Kathleen Reitz, handing him the cup of coffee, and eighth-grade language arts teacher Natalie Durrum, holding a basket with sugar and creamer.
Similarly honored were crossing guards Kathleen Hall, Paula Martini and James Woods.
The group behind the treats is called Sunny Side UP, Explorer K-8 staffers who make small efforts to acknowledge, encourage and appreciate each other.
As she approached each crossing guard, Arianna thanked them for keeping her and everyone at the school safe.
"We come through our gates every morning, and they're there," Reitz said. Sunny Side UP wanted them to know they are noticed and needed.
Throughout the year, some of the things Sunny Side UP provided were a giant, group birthday party and expressions of appreciation for the cafeteria staff, the custodians and the office staff.
"I think it's fantastic," Woods said. "It's always appreciated when you get the school's and parents' support."
The crossing guards agreed.
"It's nice to see somebody cares," Costagliola said.
"I thought this was great," Martini said, "greatly appreciated."
"This is sweet. It's nice to know you're appreciated," Hall said.
Standing on the corner with traffic whizzing by, Reitz said to Hall: "Your service is invaluable."