ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis McDonald's restaurants held fundraisers for victims of the deadly school shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA) and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (CSMB).
Both fundraisers were from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at the McDonald's on South Kingshighway Boulevard and Natural Bridge Road. During the event, 20% of the proceeds raised go to the SLPS Foundation, a non-profit.
The reason for holding this fundraiser at McDonald's was intentional.
"Those kind of things really hit home hard," owner and operator of the Kingshighway McDonald's Mark Proctor said.
Mark Proctor has worked with countless students and young adults over the course of his 33 years at McDonald's.
"I've had children of former employees that come back and work with us," he said.
Countless employees have been CVPA/CSMB students impacted by this tragedy, and were even close to teacher Mrs. Jean Kuczka and student Alexandria Bell who were killed in the shooting.
"I was speaking this morning with one of my managers who brought up Mrs. K, as he called her, and recalled the time she took him on a ski trip," he said.
5 On Your Side talked to a CVPA student who showed up to the fundraiser, and also had Mrs. Jean Kuczka as a teacher.
"My body, my mind, and my spirit are at peace with this," junior Tamia Gates said.
Gates recalled other fond memories with Kuczka during physical education classes. Gates is an avid dancer, and said she's been dancing to heal over the last three weeks.
"I finally have accepted what has happened and I think I'm ready, not to forget but to move on. That way I can move on with my life because I'm sure they (Alexandria Bell and Jean Kuczka) wouldn't want me to be stuck here," she said.
SLPS Foundation President Halliday Douglas said doing this fundraiser is demonstrative of his and the foundation's commitment to everyone impacted by the shooting, including the foundation members themselves.
"The foundation was impacted by this, professionally and on a more personal level," he said. A lot of us are products of St. Louis Public Schools, and/or have children at St. Louis Public Schools."
Partnering with another McDonald's to hold this fundraiser for the victims of the deadly shooting held a special place in Mark Proctor's heart, too.
He said any CVPA student who walked through his door got the job back when he was in charge of hiring.
"I'd automatically hire them," he said. "They'd show me their ID's, there's no interview process, we hire them and get them going the next couple days."
He, like many, is inspired by the strength of these students, especially when dealing with tragedy.
"You see someone at 16 years old and they come in with very little confidence, self-esteem," he said. "But you work with them and you see them grow."