BELTON — Gary Leofsky has a special place in his heart for Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow.
His stepdaughter, Destiny Wicks, just graduated from the school.
So when Leofsky, the post commander of Henry T. Waskow Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4008, and other VFW members donated $25,000 to the Belton Educational Enrichment Foundation Wednesday morning, it was a distinct moment for him.
“It’s a great honor to be giving this to the Henry T. Waskow (High School). Not only because it’s part of our post, but I really appreciate what y’all have done,” Leofsky said, standing in the school’s foyer. “This is a fantastic school. I appreciate it. Not only do we give back to the veterans, but … we do give back to the community.”
Those thousands of dollars will start an endowment dedicated to giving graduating New Tech seniors a $1,000 scholarship every year. This is similar to a scholarship program in place for Belton High School.
“This is a lot. Thanks,” Allyn Testroet, the president of the BEEF board of directors, said, beginning to clap her hands to recognize the large donation.
Jay Taggart, a former school board president and ex-member of the BEEF board, saw the creation of the foundation and New Tech.
“The reason I’m here is because I’ve worked with these gentlemen and some of their other officers at the VFW out here in Belton … and helped them — encouraged them — to not only make their annual scholarship donations, but to put their money in a fund and endow a scholarship,” Taggart said.
Larry Youngblood, quartermaster of the VFW Post, said the money for this endowment came from the organization’s bingo fund.
“We couldn’t do it without the people in the community coming and playing bingo at our facility,” Youngblood said, referring to the VFW building at 2311 S. Pearl St. “So really this is from everybody who comes to bingo — not only the VFW, but everybody who comes and supports us.”
Superintendent Susan Kincannon offered her gratitude for the donation.
“This school, obviously, is about service and the legacy of Henry T. Waskow and your service to the community,” she said. “Thank you for providing this to our foundation.”
The post and New Tech High are named for Henry T. Waskow, a World War II veteran who graduated from Belton High School in 1935 and died in combat in Italy on Dec. 14, 1943, at age 25. He became famous from a newspaper column by noted reporter Ernie Pyle.
After presenting an oversized check to the Belton Independent School District, Leofsky said the VFW will start working on its donation for next year.
“Yeah,” Kincannon said, excitedly. “We have another one coming.”
The one the superintendent referred to is Lake Belton High School — the district’s second comprehensive high school. It opens in the fall of 2020, and is located in Temple near State Highway 317 and FM 2483.
“I’m going to write that down,” Kincannon said, with a laugh.