Otsego business owner making sure local students don’t worry about paying for lunch

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OTSEGO, Mich. — A few weeks ago Don Miller heard a story that inspired him to write a $7,000 check to Otsego Public Schools and Plainwell Community Schools, he said. A businessman in Indiana paid off the lunch debts of a school district there. Miller wanted to do the same.

“That’s something that needs to get done around here,” Miller recalled himself saying after he heard the story. “These schools have done a great job of educating our kids and getting them doing good.”

He owns Auto West car dealership on M-89. Miller said he always tries to stay involved in the community. When he reached out to the districts on December 3rd and learned about their lunch debts, he opened his checkbook.

“[I] was just very shocked,” remembered Connor Kooyers after speaking with Miller that day . “We appreciate it here, to help out the students, just like I said, to help out the community, especially during the holiday season.”

Kooyers is the food and services director with both Otsego and Plainwell schools. He said 35 percent of the districts student population is on free or reduced lunch. So paying for lunch this time of year can be especially hard.

“School lunches are extremely important for students,” Kooyers said during an interview in the cafeteria at Otsego High School. “Sometimes this is the only meal that they do get, a complete meal they get or a warm meal.”

Miller said it’s sad that students struggle to eat. However he’s glad he can help. He put the check in the mail last Friday and hopes that other business owners will do the same.

“Anybody that can do anything like this, I tell them to take it as an inspiration and pay it forward and help out your community as much as you can,” Miller said. “It’s little things like this that go a long ways.”

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  • Mac Woods

    Lauren, if you are going to write articles about West Michigan and (presumably) live here, then take a crash course on Dutch surnames. “Cooers”. Phonics never did anyone any favors. Nice to see that you DID get it right, the second time you mentioned it.

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