VFW post donates more than $10,000 to local organizations
By PAMELA GRANT
Olan Forest Smith VFW Post 8577 gave away more than $12,000 to various local 501c3 organizations.
The money given away is raised through their Bingo events. Many of the Bingo players were thrilled to see that their money goes towards a good cause, supporting various non-profit organizations.
Recipients of the most recent giveaway included the Citizens Fire & Public Safety Volunteer Association who received $2,000, Cub Scout Pack 251 who received $2,000, Central Texas Veterans Affairs 8201 FCP received $600 which will go towards purchasing bikes for Homeless Veterans Community Employment Services, the Killeen Daily Herald’s Newspapers in Education Program received $250, Project Graduation received $1,000, Camp Cowboy received $6,000, the Pride of Cove Band and Guard Boosters received $750, the Belton Alzheimer’s Association Walk received $100, and the Gatesville Halloween Maze received $1,000.
Post Commander Ron Abrahamson said that, to receive the donations, the 501c3 organizations must submit a request. VFW members then vote on which organizations will receive money and how much money they should receive.
“All of these organizations fall in line with our organization’s values…Every donation that we give is voted on by the membership,” said Abrahamson. “Our mission is to support veterans and the community, and that’s what Bingo allows us to do. It allows us to support the veteran community and the local community.”
Each of the recipients was extremely grateful for the donations and expressed how the money will help.
“The money is going towards throwing an event on graduation night. It is a drug and alcohol-free event to try to get our youth to celebrate in a positive way,” said Heather Gutierrez, a C.R. Clements/Hollie Parsons Elementary School teacher who picked up the check for Project Graduation. She said that she’s excited about what they will be able to do for this year’s graduating teens.
“We depend on support from the community,” said Jimmy Tucker, Director of Operations for Camp Cowboy who received the VFW’s check Thursday. “We want to help as many people as we can.”
Tucker said that the facility’s cost for one student is about $1,500 which is primarily for feeding and caring for the horses.
Camp Cowboy works to assist those who serve and have served our nation and their families. They also help first responders and their families. They do this through equine therapy which helps participants to become more self-aware and to build healthier coping skills.
Tucker said that the VFW is always very supportive of Camp Cowboy and that they really appreciate that support. He added that the VFW is always really great about helping out the community as a whole.
“That’s what we do, we give back,” said Lucy Anastasio with the VFW Auxiliary.
The VFW hosts Bingo nights Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:30 p.m.