VFW Post 10174 donated $1,000 each to three high schools to help with underfunded programs. Trustee Louis Williams presented members of the 2021-22 Gibbs High School Band and Principal Barry Brown with a $1,000 check on May 10.
BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — School is out for the summer, and thanks to the veterans at VFW Post 10174, three local high schools will have a jump start on the new school year with donations of $1,000 each.
Trustee Louis Williams wants the community to know that the Charlie King Tutson VFW is not just a “drinking hole.”
“We do things within the community and if you know of anyone that needs anything, just let us know,” said Williams, an 84-year-old U.S. Army and Air Force veteran. “We’ll do the best that we can do about that.”
Williams personally handed Gibbs and Boca Ciega High Schools their checks, which will go a long way in helping underfunded programs. Lakewood High School was the third school to receive funds.
“[We are] very, very grateful that we had this opportunity to apply and give our proposal to the VFW, as well as the things that they have done for us and this country,” said Gibbs High School Band Director Robert Thomas.
Thomas plans on getting the band’s uniforms cleaned, buying a new banner to showcase during parades, raincoats so the band can perform in the rain, and other equipment if funds are available.
“We will stretch it out as much as we can so that we can put it in the areas that are needed,” noted Thomas.
To determine how funds are distributed, Post 10174 requires a short proposal on how the money will be used, and a committee will decide who and how much will be distributed. Schools, recreation centers, and non-profit organizations are all welcome to apply.
Not only is Williams a trustee, but he’s also a sort of community liaison. He’s looking to start a swimming program to teach young Black children how to swim and intends on spending $3,000 every six months helping the community.
“Well, that’s what we were supposed to be about in the beginning,” said the Vietnam War vet. “When we earn money, we’re supposed to disperse so much of it back into the community.”
It’s been five or six years since Post 10174 has been active in the community, citing the outgoing regime and the pandemic. But Williams plans to put the money train back on track and help the underprivileged.
Besides dues, the post makes money through the bar and rentals. The community can rent the facility, located at 1780 49th St. S, for probably the cheapest rates in the area.
“We have a bar, we have food, tables, and we have karaoke,” Williams said. “We have bingo, and I just invite everybody to stop by.”
For more information, please call 727-323-0024.
About Charlie King Tutson
VFW Post 10174 has been around since the 1940s. It was the first post chartered in south St. Petersburg and was soon renamed The Charlie King Tutson VFW in honor of local legend Charlie “King Tut” Tutson, who served in the U.S. Army.
After retiring as a maintenance worker at the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines, Tutson became a janitor at Jordan Elementary School. He spent the majority of his life working with Black youths and successfully leading them through the Boy Scouts program.
Although he passed in 1983, Tutson will always be remembered for his decades of dedication with the Boys Scouts and Troop 234, one of the oldest black troops in the community.