Mexican-American group donates $120K for scholarships at McGregor, Oglesby school districts

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 5:24 PM CST
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McGREGOR, Texas (KWTX) - Two small Central Texas districts received unexpected donations totaling $120,000 after the Association of Mexican Americans (AMA) in McGregor sold a building they’d operated for nearly 50 years and then invested all the money right back into local children.

The AMA Hall has used the building just behind Amsler Park in McGregor since purchasing it from the McGregor Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1974 for activities like meetings, graduation and birthday parties, community gatherings, and Quinceañeras.

The building has a long history in Central Texas, originally being on post at Fort Hood as an army barrack before being moved to Temple, and then auctioned off and moved to McGregor.

While it had many years of experiences for thousands of people in McGregor the last 50 years, the COVID crisis in 2020 left the AMA Hall shut down for months, and even when restrictions eased, the organization had a hard time keeping up with varying rules, AMA McGregor President C.B. Leos told KWTX.

“Two years ago, we stopped having functions because we couldn’t keep up with all the rules imposed on us,” Leos said.

The organization decided to sell the building and the buyer was the City of McGregor.

The city paid around $125,000 for the property, but rather than keep the cash, the association decided to give the proceeds to two nearby school districts for student scholarships by presenting McGregor with $80,000 and Oglesby with $40,000.

It came as a complete surprise to both McGregor Superintendent James Lenamon and Oglesby Superintendent David Maass.

Maass said the money will go a long way in his town with a population of around 500.

“We have a small school, so our kids don’t have a lot of opportunities to get scholarships because we don’t have a lot of businesses around Oglesby,” Maass said. “That $40,000 is a huge benefit for several students for several years to come.”

It was a feeling shared by Lenamon in McGregor, who said AMA has long endowed scholarships in the past, but nothing like this.

“The AMA has a long history of supporting the district and the graduates of McGregor High School,” Lenamon said. “Through their generous endowment of the AMA Scholarship fund, they have ensured the availability of scholarships to deserving students for 20 years or more.”

The scholarships will be in the amount of $2,000 a year, with McGregor presenting two a year and Oglesby one. The hope is for the money to last at least two decades.

The City of McGregor says they plan to incorporate the property and building into the city park system and make it open for public use in the future.

McGregor added they’d like to thank AMA Officers C.B. Leos, Lupe Villareal, Mary Lou Villareal, Rhonda Leos and all those who have supported the AMA.

“Thank you for your generous investment in our students and for trusting us to be good stewards of the fruits of your labor,” Lenamon said.