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'We made her proud': Donations clear lunch debt for all Englewood students

englewood lunch debt.jpg
Posted at 10:47 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 01:35:32-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Englewood students go back to school, they'll have a clean slate on their lunch balance. A big reason is because of a large donation from the Kohler family.

For five years, Kari Kohler was a food nutrition specialist in the Englewood school system.

"I refer to her as the lunch lady," said Kari's father, Keith Kohler.

In 2018, Kari was diagnosed with cancer. In that time, her family and friends stepped up to help in her treatment by creating fundraising events.

"We had a bowling fundraiser quite a few months back and Kari always said, depending on what happens, she wanted it [the money raised] go to a good place," said Kari's brother, Kris.

Ten months into her battle, Kari died just one week before her 36th birthday.

"I don’t wish any parent to have to go through it," Keith Kohler said of his daughter's death.

To honor Kari, her family knew what to do with the money previously raised. They chose to donate $1,500 towards student lunch debt at Englewood Schools.

"I just remember she would come home with a heavy heart. I’d ask her what was wrong, it was because the kids couldn’t get meals," Kris Kohler said of why they chose to donate to the students' lunch debt.

Between the Kohler's donation, a $1,400 donation from the PTA of Charles Hay World School, and a few other anonymous donations, every student in the Englewood school system had their lunch debt cleared for the year.

"It makes a huge difference for our kids, our families and our schools," said Englewood Superintendent Wendy Rubin.

With help from the community, the Kohlers plan to make a donation every year in Kari's name.

"I’m so happy. I just know that she’s watching down and so proud of what she was able to do for those kids."