BUCKHANNON – Tis the season to start thinkin’ about the perfect gift for loved ones. And with Buckhannon’s own Band of Brother’s scenic calendar, you can gift stunning views of West Virginia and give back to the folks of McDowell County.
Al Tucker and Tim Rock stopped by Thursday morning’s Upshur County Commission meeting to discuss the annual “Help Us Help Kids” Christmas project. Each year, the Band of Brothers — a group of Christian men from local churches — band together to raise funds for communities in need through the selling of calendars.
With each year’s calendar sales, Rock said the Band of Brothers have been able to help children locally, statewide and internationally.
“Through the sale of these West Virginia scenic calendars and donations we raised about $25,000 last year,” he said. “Thirty-five percent of that went to local projects, 15 percent went to international projects and 50 percent went statewide.”
Tucker noted someone in the community graciously pays to produce the calendars by putting up $4,500.
In 2016, the group used the fundraiser to assist with the flood-stricken Clay, Kanawha and Webster counties.
“We took Christmas presents and we took boxes of food down there,” Tucker said.
Last year, the funds were utilized to help yet Wetzel County, another county that was hit hard by flash flooding.
“The city of Hundred and surrounding areas got hit pretty hard, and we rolled in on December 22. Tim got a big U-Haul and we had it packed up with food … And each family got two (boxes),” he said. “One for Christmas and one for New Year’s so they could have a meal.”
This year the funds will be used to help the communities within McDowell County.
Tucker mentioned that The Wall Street Journal had printed an article regarding the country’s poverty rate, with West Virginia as the highest.
“So, who’s the lowest of the 55 counties? It’s McDowell County,” he said. “They’re the least of the least. They’re at the bottom of all the good statistics and the top of all the bad statistics.”
Back in the 1950’s, Tucker said McDowell County had roughly 100,000 folks living in the coal county, but now there are less than 20,000.
“If you drive through there everything is shuttered,” he said. “We are so blessed to have this beautiful town that we live in and the surrounding area and to have the economic resources that support us.”
With coal gone, Tucker said McDowell County does not have the economic boost compared to Buckhannon. He noted the county has even lost its Walmart.
“Can you imagine having no place to shop?” he asked. “In some of those deep communities in McDowell County, it takes awhile to get over to another county.”
Tucker said the communities of McDowell County are “truly are the forgotten of our brothers and sisters.”
“So, we said that’s who we’re going to help this year,” he said. “We’re going to do our darnedest and sell as many calendars and take as many donations as we can, and drive down there … to help as many as we can.”
Checks can be made payable to Band of Brothers for $15 and mailed to Al Tucker at 98 West Lincoln Street, Buckhannon, WV 26201.
Before adjourning, commissioners also:
*Adopted the suggest revisions to the Upshur County 911 Addressing and Mapping Ordinance previously adopted on Sept. 18, 2003 and amended on Feb. 8, 2007.
*Reviewed and approved the order to appoint the sheriff of Upshur County as the administrator of the estate of Irene Lucille Wolfe, deceased.
*Approved that Sam Nolte sign the contract agreement, standard and special conditions, certification and resolution for the Victims of Crime Act Grant award in which the amount of $34,555 is to be used to provide direct services to crime victims in the county.
*Approved and signed the U.S. EPA MBE/WBE Utilization under federal grants and cooperative agreements form 5700-52A.
*Approved and signed the federal financial report standard form 425 per the U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Cooperative agreement.
*Approved and signed the W.Va. Records Management and Preservation Board Resolution and grant applications for fiscal year 2019-20 in the amount of $15,737 with a 10 percent cash match by the Upshur County Commission for all grant funds expended.
The next meeting will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 1 in the Upshur County Courthouse Annex.