For some fifth graders, having a parent pick them up at school may seem routine. For one Los Angeles girl, seeing her mother walk through her classroom door brought her to tears.
On Wednesday, Veronica Velasquez, a U.S. Army soldier just back from Afghanistan, came to Vaughn Elementary School to be reunited with her daughter Jamie Sanchez. They had not seen each other in more than a year.
"I missed everything about her, her voice, and seeing her face. Every day," Sanchez told ABC station KABC-TV.
Velasquez's sister's boyfriend, Victor Sosa, coordinated the surprise at Vaughn Elementary School, where Sanchez attends, and told KABC he was a college student who has helped take care of Sanchez while her mom has been away.
"It's indescribable," Sosa told KABC. "Being away from someone you love with all your heart, a mom. She didn't even see the birth of her grandkid. That's why I wanted to do it so bad for her. I know the sacrifice personally from my family and just seeing the sacrifice from her family. It makes everything worth it."
The school's executive director, Anita Zepeda, told ABCNews.com that Sanchez was "very proud of her mother."
"We had a Veteran's Day project this year, and we asked the students to bring a photo of people who were veterans, and she put up a photo of her mother," Zepeda said. "It was so touching and so emotional."
Velasquez will be on leave in California for the next two weeks, and will then be stationed at a base in New York for the remainder of her year and a half of military service.
After her service, she said she hopes to see her kids grow up - "not via Skype, but in person."
"Birthdays, holidays, pretty much I missed everything for a whole year," Velasquez said. "It's time that I can't really make up, but just spend more time with them."