National School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day brings awareness to shortage

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Their jobs are not the easiest ones, they brave all sorts of weather elements and crazy distracted drivers every day: school crossing guards. Their key role: protect the children as they walk to school.
 
February 5th is National School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day. In Orange County there are 295 crossing guards, they protect 452 crossings throughout unincorporated Orange County and the Sheriff’s Office Crossing Guard program includes more than 120 schools. 
 
Many call it a "thank-less" job but not today.
 
"It feels good that I’m being recognized for the work I do for the safety of the kids,” said Charles Sledge a school crossing guard for the Westridge Middle School. 
 
Sledge has been a crossing guard for 4 years now many students from Westridge Middle School know him by name and he told us he likes being a teacher to them outside the classroom. 
 
"Mentoring the kids, teaching them right from wrong about crossing, and looking both ways," said Sledge.
 
The Orange County Sheriff Office is in charge of recruiting them but right now, they need help.
 
"If we're short a guard, like we're 22 short right now, that doesn't mean those intersections are not covered, we cover those intersections. But we have to pull one of our patrol deputies to do that and they’re happy to that. But the more guards we get, the less the deputies we have to use and then they can spend that time patrolling through neighborhoods,” said the OCSO spokeswoman Jane Watrel. 
 
Their biggest obstacle: distracted drivers. 
 
“The guard is standing in the middle of the street and they will fly by, it has happened to me,” said Donna Mitchell a crossing guard trainer and recruiter for the OCSO. 
 
These crossing guards say they risk their lives everyday to keep your kids safe. Their advice to drivers is simple, "Observe our 20 mile per hour speed limit and don't text and drive when you're going through the crossing guard zone because it's very unsafe,” stated Sledge.
 
If you want to become a crossing guard, it pays more $10.85 an hour and you get state benefits.
To apply visit this website: http://www.ocso.com/EmploymentInfo/CivilianPositions/tabid/98/Default.aspx 
 
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