CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – After a long, hard year, teachers in the Cherry Creek School District had one last unique encounter on Friday; a student bought them lunch to say thanks.

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“I just wanted to let teachers know that they are appreciated. What they’ve done is absolutely amazing,” said Kyra Dooley, a soon-to-be graduate of Eaglecrest High School. “They’ve gone through some of the hardest things that anybody can go through, because they’ve had to adjust so much. And so, I just want to let them know that we really do appreciate them and everything that they’ve done for us.”

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Dooley organized the event through her nonprofit, which she started in middle school, encouraging kids to give up their Christmas or birthday presents to make a bigger impact in the community. Dooley’s efforts have only become more serious, like when the FBI gave her an award for work advocating on behalf of human trafficking victims.

“She’s just an amazing kid,” said Lisa Bohn, Dooley’s third-grade teacher.

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“It’s such a gift. It’s so nice to have just students reach out and say thank you for anything we’ve done for them.”

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About 300 teachers were fed on Friday afternoon.

“I haven’t had handwritten notes in so long, and that the fact that you took the time to actually write something and fold it and put stickers on the envelope, like, it was just great. It makes it worth it. Right. It confirms why you do what it is that you do,” said Deann Williams, who taught Dooley this year.

(credit: CBS)

Some teachers at the event said the pandemic had brought a sooner-than-expected retirement. Others said the return to in-person learning and the words of thanks from students will bring them back.

“It made a lot of people really think about continuing teaching. This year truly made people think, is this a profession for me? Can I still make connections with kids?” Williams said. “We were so afraid about not being able to make connections with our kids this year. And so, for a senior to feel so connected to her teachers and wanting to thank her teachers and the staff, that means a lot to us.”

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“They have changed so many lives and have made school so much easier for us. And even though it wasn’t easy for them, they worked so hard to make sure we had a good year and to make sure we got the education that we needed,” Dooley said.

Jeff Todd