Representatives with the Band of Brothers presented a $5,000 check to the Upshur County Board of Education Dec. 15. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Band of Brothers group surpasses fundraising goal in efforts to help at-risk kids in Upshur County, throughout W.Va.

TENNERTON – The Band of Brothers on Wednesday presented a $5,000 check for Christmas presents for Upshur County students as well as a $2,000 check in support of the local Grandfamilies program.

Band of Brothers member Al Tucker said their organization decided to focus on helping underprivileged children with their annual West Virginia Scenic Calendar sale for 2021.

“Our sub-theme this year is, ‘We Need a Little Christmas,’” Tucker said at Wednesday’s check presentation at the Upshur County Schools bus garage. “We all need a little Christmas, but these kids are at-risk of not having Christmas at all. We have already met with the Underprivileged Children’s Foundation and they’re in Charleston, so we gave them a check for $15,000 and that’s going to cover over 1,000 kids in 20 counties, so I’m really excited about that.”

The Band of Brothers, a local Christian men’s group, also wanted to make sure they helped Upshur County children.

“We want to help the kids at home, so I got with Lori (Ulderich Harvey, executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network) and she got in touch with Jodie Akers (Upshur County Schools’ director of attendance and transportation) at the school system, and we’ve identified 47 kids to help,” Tucker said. “We just presented a check for $5,000 to the school system, and the school bus drivers, who know the kids, are going to go buy the presents and then they’re going to have a reception and give them the presents.”

The presentation of both checks took place Dec. 15 at the Upshur County Schools bus garage in Tennerton.

“The second presentation is for the Grandfamilies Program because unfortunately, grandparents have started taking care of their children’s kids,” Tucker said. “They have a number of grandfamilies, so we donated $2,000 to help those grandparents.”

Lori Ulderich Harvey, executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network, said the Grandfamilies program was started at West Virginia State University, and following that pilot program, grandfamilies programs throughout the Mountain State were established.

“It’s a nine-week program, so it’s an hour-and-a-half each week,” Harvey said. “Some of the topics we cover include parenting in the 21st century, legal issues, social media, stress and self-care – issues like that. It’s a totally free program, and participants receive a gift card upon completion.”

Another session of the program will begin in March 2022, hopefully in person.

“Our previous sessions had to be done virtually, but in March we’ll hopefully be able to meet in person but if we have to change it, we will,” Harvey said. “We come together each week and we have an expert on each topic. At the end of the program, the grandparents can hang around and talk like an informal support group or they can ask us questions.”

Band of Brothers member Tim Rock presents a $2,000 check to Upshur County Family Resource Network director Lori Ulderich Harvey. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

More information on the Upshur County Grandfamilies program can be found in this previous My Buckhannon article.

Tucker said the Band of Brothers has raised just short of $50,000 through their calendar fundraiser and various donations.

“We are now just short of $50,000 raised this year, which is great,” he said. “We were actually worried about hitting out goal of $38,000, but Tim (Rock, a Band of Brothers member) just brought me a check for $2,500 from a company here in town, and we’ve had several business owners in town give us $1,000 or $2,000.

“It’s really great,” he added. “Only about $15,000 of the $50,000 was from selling calendars.”

Email Al Tucker at alanandliva@aol.com for more information about how to donate or purchase a 2022 Band of Brothers West Virginia Scenic Calendar.

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