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VFW Auxiliary presents more than $9,000 to local organizations


Cove Leader-Press 


Several local organizations received donations ranging from $800 to $4,000 before the start of the VFW Post #8577 Auxiliary’s bingo game Tuesday evening. 

The Auxiliary of Olan Forest Smith VFW Post #8577 hosts its own bingo nights to help raise funds that are then donated to different organizations in the community. 

Tuesday’s recipients include Camp Cowboy, which received a check for $1,500; the Copperas Cove Bulldogs cheer team (from the Hill Country Youth Football League), which received a check for $1,500; the Copperas Cove Colts youth football and cheer team, which received a check for $2,000; the Christian Home Educators Support System (C.H.E.S.S.), which received a check for $800; and Help Heal Vets, which received a check for $4,000. 

The checks were presented to representatives from each organization in front of the gathered bingo crowd right before the 7 p.m. bingo game started. 

As she explained the amounts given to each organization, Lucy Anastasio told the crowd that these donations were possible only due to the bingo players themselves. 

For the Bulldogs (HCYFL) cheer team, the donation will help with covering costs associated with going to competition, Red Zone games and any equipment needed along the way, according to the team’s varsity captain Delilah A., age 10. 

The Colts football and cheer team, which are part of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), will be using their donation for football or cheer equipment for kids whose parents are in financial need, according to Rachel Cardona, who is the assistant athletic director admin for the Colts. 

Help Heal Vets is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1971, during the Vietnam War, and has been providing therapeutic craft kits to veterans and active-duty military since then. The craft kits were given to soldiers in hospital beds who were looking for something to do, which is why the organization’s name was originally Help Hospitalized Veterans. The name changed to Help Heal Veterans around 10 years ago to focus more on the community of veterans, not just the hospital, according to Trish Alger, Craft Care Specialist with Help Heal Veterans. 

The craft kits come complete with everything needed to complete the project including materials and instructions, and the projects range from leatherworking to model building to jewelry making to woodworking to making bags or wallets or purses and more. Each kit also includes a thank you card for the donor who provided the kit to allow the veteran or service member to send. 

There is a Help Heal Veterans facility in Temple, near the VA Hospital, called the Cahill Center, where veterans can come in to get their craft kits at no charge. They also offer classes and hold demonstrations featuring artists.

The generous donation of $4,000 will be going towards supplies for an upcoming resin class as well as helping secure live music and other things necessary for the organization’s upcoming art show, the Cahill Center Showcase: From Combat to Creativity; In Times of War, Prepare for Peace. The exhibit will take place on November 11, 2023 at the Cultural Activites Center in Temple and will feature art of all mediums created by U.S. military veterans or service members. 

Lucy Anastasio, with the Auxiliary, said that being able to give money to organizations such as Help Heal Vets makes her and her fellow members feel wonderful. 

“They only asked us for $2,000, but we decided to up it,” she said. “So many of these organizations asked for so little, and we just upped it. Sometimes, we doubled it and just gave them more than what they asked for because that’s what we’re here for. This is what we’re supposed to be doing is taking care of the veterans and their families, and what better way to do it than to give them more than what they asked for.”

Bingo games are held every Saturday and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. Tuesday games are sponsored by the Auxiliary. For more information on the bingo games, visit 

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