BAKER — The students at Baker School call their custodian Ernest Martin “Mr. Sunshine” because he always has a smile on his face.

Martin has been the custodian at Baker for 28 years. During that time he has built relationships with many of the students that pass through the K-12 school. He’s the first person on campus in the morning and greets them as they start their day.

“I don’t think he realizes the impact he has on these kids,” said Casey Lewis, a parent of two Baker students.

Lewis learned that National Custodian Day was in early October and mentioned it to her children, one of whom is in ffith grade and the other in first grade. Her kids decided to surprise him at school, and Lewis helped organize the entire thing.

“He knows most of the children and they know him, and they interact with him,” said Assistant Principal Victoria Hurley, who welcomed the idea and helped collect handmade cards for Martin from students.

“He’s one of those people that no matter what we need, we can call on him and he will take care of it,” Hurley said.

When the elementary students filed into the cafeteria for lunch Tuesday morning, several classes were ready with piles of "thank you" cards they made for Martin. Then they called him to the lunchroom and waited for him to turn the corner.

Martin wasn’t sure what was happening at first. Once he realized the cheering, balloons and cards were for him, he had to hold back tears.

“I am just overwhelmed,” Martin said. “I love being around the kids, and I just really appreciate when they come up and hug me. They let me know I’m a special person to them.”

With arms full of gifts from his friends, Martin made his way down the hall to his office.

“I’m going to put this in my office,” he said,” but I might cry on it.”