By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(BOULDER, Colo.) — King Soopers, the Colorado-based grocery chain that saw one of its stores become the site of a mass shooting this week, is donating $1 million to support community healing in the wake of the deadly gun violence.
Three King Soopers employees — identified as Teri Leiker, Rikki Olds, and Denny Stong — were among the victims after a gunman opened fire Monday at the Boulder grocery store, leaving 10 people dead.
Rikki Olds’ uncle, Robert Olds, remembered his niece as someone who would light up the room with her “bubbly” personality and infectious laugh.
“She was so loved, and she will be so missed,” Robert Olds told ABC News. “We are heartbroken and saddened and devastated.”
She had been a manager at the store for six years, her uncle said.
King Soopers committed a $1 million donation, through the company’s public charity, to the Colorado Healing Fund. The fund was set up by a local nonprofit to support the needs of victims, families, survivors and the entire Boulder community still reeling from the tragedy.
The company said in a statement Thursday that its contribution will help provide mental health services and other financial relief to survivors and others who have been “traumatized” by the event.
“The entire King Soopers family continues to mourn the loss of those who were victims of this senseless act of violence,” Steve Burnham, the president of King Soopers/City Market, said in a statement. “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our fellow Coloradans, and we thank everyone for their incredible kindness.”
The company said it was providing additional access to mental health services for its employees, and offering emergency paid leave to associates directly affected by the shooting. It is also encouraging customers to donate to the healing fund as well, saying they will now be given the option to do so at checkout lanes.
“The Boulder King Soopers store will remain closed until the police investigation is complete,” Burnham said. “We are committed to helping the community grieve and heal from this tragic event.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, and Monday’s shooting, has sparked new debates about the lack of protections offered to grocery store workers — even as they have been deemed “essential” throughout the health crisis.
“This senseless act of evil also highlights and shines a light on the best of human nature,” Kim Cordova, the president of UFCW Local 7, which represents workers at the King Soopers store where the shooting took place, said in a statement. “There are news reports that after gunshots rang out, grocery workers helped customers in the store find safety, directing shoppers to an exit at the back of the store, and assisted one another to escape the danger inside.”
“No one should have to fear for their lives while they grocery shop or go to work every day,” Cordova added. “Unfortunately, our grocery members, frontline Essential Workers, have lived in fear each and every day during the pandemic.”
Cordova called on government officials and employers “to do more to protect our members and communities from the constant threat of violence.”
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