Members of American Legion Post 757 pose with Jason Vesey (left), and Susan Schwalbauch after presenting the donation at the Pickaway-Ross Board of Education meeting in December.

A generous donation by Chillicothe’s American Legion Post 757 is the first step in a new partnership with Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center.

John Burton, Post 757’s finance officer, and several other members presented the career center with $10,000 at its December board meeting. The money will be used to help students as they begin their careers, primarily in the trades.

Describing themselves as “blue-collar workers,” Burton said the money is for students who may not be seeking academic scholarships.

“We weren't worried about the academics. We just wanted to get some kids that maybe were less fortunate started off. You know, get their tools, boots, Carharts, whatever they needed to move forward and do their job once they get out of school or help them out before getting out of school.”

Burton attended Pickaway-Ross’ Masonry program and after graduating from high school he worked as a mason briefly before enlisting in the Army in 1986. He served with the 101st Airborne from 1988 through 1991.

Susan Schwalbauch, academic specialist who coordinated with Burton and Post 757 members to address the board, said they wanted lower-income students to benefit from “someone like them” investing in their future. 

“I like to think of it as not a handout but a hand up,” Schwalbauch said.

Superintendent Jonathan Davis said he is moved by the donation.

“I am so appreciative of these fine men, their commitment to our students and the area, and their incredible service to our country.”  

Burton and Schwalbauch said the post would like to partner with the career center for community events for veterans.

Several members of Post 757 are interested in being interviewed by students in English teacher Tea McCaulla’s Voice of Freedom class. Students have been recording interviews with veterans for many years for the Library of Congress.

“I’m looking forward to how our students will benefit from connecting with these men and women who have served our country,” Davis said.