FOE #398 Yuma hosts fundraiser for local school crossguard’s funeral expenses

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) – The Fraternal Order of Eagles #398 Yuma hosted a fundraiser today for the Palmcroft elementary crossguard who died after she was struck by a vehicle while on the job.

The Yuma community is coming together once again to help the family of 70-year-old Maria Cecilia Chavez cover their funeral expenses.

Chavez’s cousin, Christina Espinoza said she was a homegrown Yuman who loved her community and job dearly.

Adding how she lit up any room she entered and loved to dance.

“She taught me how to dance, how to jitterbug,” said Espinoza. “So, it was quite an experience with her teaching me and I’m going the wrong way and she’s turning me the right way or I’m going the wrong way or whatever, but yeah, that was probably one of my fondest memories about her.”

Parents like Susan James whose children are enrolled at Palmcroft Elementary remember Chavez as “ready for anything.”

“Always dedicated to getting the kids in school safely. Tragically, it was a bad situation for her, but the kids were always safe in her hands,” said James.

James describes Chavez as a force to be reckoned with when it came to her job.

“She was always advocating for the children in defense of the cars crossing or going too fast or stopping after the white strip where they’re supposed to be,” said James. “I just remember her fierceness to protect the children like a big momma bear.”

Espinoza said you can contact her regarding donations at (928) 919-6766 or send donations to the Humane Society of Yuma as Chavez was the, “biggest dog lover of Yuma.”

After covering funeral expenses, Espinoza said they plan to donate the leftover money to district one in hopes to get more protection for crossguards to ensure this never happens again.

Espinoza said on behalf of the family, they are very thankful to the Yuma community. She said, whether you are a Palmcroft parent, donor, or friend, they can’t stress enough how much all the support means to them.

FOE #398 Yuma’s fundraiser ends this evening at 6 pm and Palmcroft Elementary will be hosting a drive-thru benefit dinner from 4:30-6:30 pm to also help cover funeral expenses, make sure to buy a ticket ahead of time for your food plates!

A total of $10,000 was raised for the beloved crossguard, the FOE #398 says they raised a total of $3,000 and Palmcroft Elementary sold all 700 tickets totaling up to $7,000.

This case is still under investigation and YPD says to reach out if you know anything.

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