Saturday, June 01, 2002

Serving milk does this body good

Volunteer's dedication inspires school

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — Elva Hoskins is milking her volunteer job at Mayfield Elementary School for all it's worth.

        The 91-year-old widow goes to the school every day and stands behind the lunch counter for more than two hours, lining up neat rows of white, chocolate and strawberry milk for the 530 students in kindergarden through fourth grade.

[photo] Elva Hoskins, 91, also known as “The Milk Lady” or “Grandma” to students and staff at Mayfield Elementary School in Middletown, volunteered at the milk station in the school's cafeteria this year.
(Tony Jones photo)
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        The students and staff have lovingly dubbed her “The Milk Lady” and “Grandma.” She banters with the students and laughs at their silly jokes. She also dishes out as much teasing as she gets.

        “I love these kids,” she says. “They make me smile. They make me happy. I look forward to going to the school every day.”

        And she proves it. All during the just-ended school year, Mrs. Hoskins was there each day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Even if she was feeling a little under the weather, she was there, said Principal John Petrocy.

        “She's an inspiration to us because she has such good attendance,” Mr. Petrocy said. “She's here day in and day out. She has to be pretty bad off to stay away. She's just a doll. She's a very humble, modest lady. I told her to please take good care of herself during the summer because we want her back here next year.”

        Mrs. Hoskins, who got piles of handmade cards from the students and staff on her birthday in May, says she will be counting the days until the doors swing back open.

        “I think I'll go crazy this summer when school's out,” she says. “I'll miss the students. I like staying busy.”

        Staying busy has been her way of life. While raising her three grown children, Mrs. Hoskins, who has seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, was a familiar sight in the schools, helping out with various committees and projects.

        She's been active in Community Christian Church in Hamilton for years, volunteering during Vacation Bible School each summer, said her daughter, Carolyn Pratt, a cafeteria cashier at Mayfield Elementary.

        For several years, Ms. Pratt got her mother involved in helping out in the cafeteria for special events throughout the school year. Now she takes her to work every day. Mrs. Hoskins worked at Mosler Safe, in Hamilton, about 12 years, until 1964, when a back injury from a car accident sidelined her. In the late 1990s, she worked at a fast-food restaurant in Monroe and then in one in Middletown, just to be with people and get out of the house.

        But two years ago, after pneumonia worsened her hearing and vision problems, she was forced to give up driving. But within weeks, she knew she wouldn't be happy sitting around the house.

        The school volunteer work, suggested by her daughter, was a perfect fit.

        “The kids are just wonderful,” says Mrs. Hoskins. “They know my hearing and sight are bad, and I often have to ask them to speak up. But that doesn't make a bit of difference to them. If everyone was like the kids, it would be a great world.”

        Do you know a Hometown Hero — someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at or fax to 755-4150.

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