Special Photo: Lisa Carter Students applaud Martha "Granny" Strickland, a cafeteria worker at Shiloh Elementary School, on Monday as she leaves an 88th birthday birthday celebration.
SNELLVILLE -- Retire?
Give 88-year-old Martha "Granny" Strickland one good reason.
"I love what I do, and I always have," said Strickland Monday as students and teachers lined up to wish the longtime Gwinnett County Public Schools cafeteria employee a happy birthday.
As part of a ceremony at Shiloh Elementary School, more than 100 showed up outside the gymnasium, where volunteers presented a "Granny Garden" as a tribute to Strickland's work ethic, longevity and contribution to the community.
A garden with dozens of flowers became the newest addition to the school.
Students and staff showed support by wearing red or purple to honor the longtime employee's involvement in Relay for Life and the Red Hat Society.
Those wearing red included students Evan Swain, 10, and Ajnishahe Baftija, 11.
"She's always sweet and good to us," said Baftija, who daily sees Strickland when she goes through the lunch line in the cafeteria.
Strickland's co-worker, Jean Murphy, said it's no secret why the kids love "Granny."
"She is the most sweet, giving woman you've ever met," said Murphy following Monday's ceremony. "She comes to work everyday with a smile on her face, and that means a lot."
Strickland, who came to Shiloh Elementary in 1993, retired from her first career in 1987 after more than 30 years in data processing with the city of Atlanta.
Whether serving hot meals to young children or crunching numbers for the government, Strickland said the secret to being happy is "putting real effort and hard work into what you do. If you do that, you'll enjoy your job."
Added Strickland: "Work keeps me happy ... I have no reason to retire."