By Kati Weis

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The King Soopers employees who survived the deadly shooting in March will now be paid without having to work through June 19. This, after employees were initially told a week after the shooting, they would only get paid leave through April 24.

(credit: CBS)

Emily Giffen says she got the call from human resources about the paid leave extension three days ago.

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“I think we’re all grateful,” Giffen said. “I think that it’s very much owed to us, to let us heal from what happened.”

A spokesperson for King Soopers tells CBS4 Kroger, the parent company, is glad to have extended the compensation, saying it’s important for the company to take care of its associates, and the company hopes this will give employees more time to think about what feels best for them moving forward.

Giffen told CBS4 the company will also be sending employees $500 bonus checks. King Soopers says those checks were made possible through an internal program called Helping Hands, which is designed to help employees during hardships.

BOULDER, CO – MARCH 26: A memorial is erected to those lost in a shooting at a King Soopers grocery store earlier in the week on March 26, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. The shooting at the King Soopers Grocery on Monday left ten people dead, including one police officer. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)

Giffen also said the company gave everyone $1 an hour pay raises to supplement their paid leave, which is calculated by weekly average hours worked, but King Soopers says that pay raise was a scheduled increase that would have happened regardless of the event in March.

Giffen said the company gave employees a chance to go back to the store on Saturday. She said it was a therapeutic experience.

“They placed flowers where everybody had passed with name cards, so we could see it,” Giffen said. “It was really hard, but it was definitely something I felt like I needed to do, I didn’t want that man to get to say that was my last day there.”

King Soopers says the tour was voluntary for employees. It also welcomed family members of the shooting victims, and was made possible through a partnership with the Boulder District Attorney’s Office and mental health workers. Those on the tour walked through the store with a mental health professional.

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While there was talk before about the store possibly reopening, Giffen says it’s unclear now when that could be. Giffen said the store is taking ideas from employees about what a possible remodel should look like.

A King Soopers spokesperson said the store is focusing on its employees first, and would not say if there are any plans about a target reopening date.

King Soopers has opened a resource center in Boulder for employees and for anyone in the community interested in seeking mental health resources.

The center, named the #BoulderStrong Community Resource Center, is located at 603 S. Broadway, and is open to the public 11 a.m. though 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

King Soopers in Boulder a day after Monday’s mass shooting on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. A gunman opened fire at a Boulder King Soopers grocery store just before 3 p.m. leaving 10 people dead. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“The entire King Soopers family together with the Boulder community continue to stand with all of those who were lost and stand with those who were victims of this senseless tragedy. We will continue to be here for the community as we begin the long healing process,” said Steve Burnham, President of King Soopers/City Market in a press release. “Our hope is that this Community Resource Center provides a safe space for the community to come together, support one another and grieve and heal together.”

Additional Information From King Soopers:

For assistance with ADA accessibility, please contact the Community Resource Center at (303) 778-2703 or email boulderresourcecenter@kingsoopers.com. For emergency assistance with a mental health crisis, please call 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255), text TALK to 38255 or go directly to our 24/7 walk-in center at 3180 Airport Road, Boulder

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To accelerate critical response efforts, King Soopers and Colorado Healing Fund (CHF) are also offering customers easy ways to donate to the community. Customers can easily and quickly support CHF in the following ways:

  • Round Up or Make a Donation at the Check Stand: Customers can now round up their purchase to the nearest dollar or commit a donation of their choice ($1, $5 and $10 in value) at check lanes

Kati Weis