NORTHBRIDGE (CBS) — A woman who has kept school kids safe for nearly 20 years needs some help herself.

A small Massachusetts town is answering the call – and that could make all the difference for one dedicated crossing guard.

“I didn’t realize I had so many friends and people that care, until now,” says 67-year-old Charlene Stuart, who has worked outside Northbridge schools for 17 years. “I cross the kids. I’ve been doing that for a long time. I love it.”

charlene stuart Longtime Northbridge Crossing Guard In Need Of Life Saving Vest

Charlene Stuart (WBZ)

But several years ago Charlene, who lives in Whitinsville with her pet turtle, had a heart attack and needed stents implanted. One of those stents recently failed. She’s had surgery for that, but now needs what’s called a “life vest.” It monitors her vital signs and will shock her heart if necessary.

She has to wear it for 3 months so doctors can figure out if she needs further treatment. The catch – it costs about $3,500 a month for the vest.

“It will save her life. This is a life saving device that she really needs,” Dorene Smick says.

When Dorene found out that Charlene doesn’t have full Medicare health coverage because she can’t afford Part B, she started a GoFundMe Page, hoping to raise money for the vest.

crossing guard gofundme Longtime Northbridge Crossing Guard In Need Of Life Saving Vest

The GoFundMe page for the crossing guard.

“She’s a great woman. She deserves this. She’s been there for our children. You really have to open up your heart and realize she needs help,” Dorene says.

The school community feels the same.

“She makes you smile every day. She’s such a great person, and I hope she really gets well,” says Northbridge 8th grader Joseph Maxim.

“She respects everyone. She’s kind to everybody. A warm, friendly smile every morning and every afternoon,” adds Northbridge teacher Mary Sitnchfield.

“I didn’t realize so many cared like this. I really didn’t,” says Charlene.

For more information or to help go to: https://www.gofundme.com/life-vest-for-charlene

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