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In this photo from late November, Band of Brothers members deliver a check to the staff at Holbrook on the Hill nursing home staff. / File photo

Band of Brothers’ scenic calendar fundraiser brings Christmas cheer to 34 nursing homes in the Mountain State

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Band of Brothers wanted to brighten the Christmases of residents at 15 nursing homes in the Mountain State.

Instead, with unparalleled community support, the Christian men’s group donated money to fund Christmastime celebrations for more than double that number of nursing homes, which will make Christmas a little cheerier for residents at 34 nursing homes in 15 counties in the state of West Virginia.

The Band of Brothers’ annual Christmas fundraiser is typically aimed at helping youth and/or other populations in need throughout West Virginia or right here in Upshur County. In 2020, the group decided they would funnel the money raised by selling their 2021 West Virginia Scenic Calendar to a group of people the COVID-19 pandemic has left the loneliest – older adults in nursing homes who have likely been without visitors since March of this year.

The effort, spearheaded by member Al Tucker, whose all-new landscape photography is featured in the 2021 Scenic Calendar, was christened “Help Us Help Kids From 1 to 92” and got underway in October.

Tucker, reflecting on its unprecedented success Tuesday, could not hold back tears of joy.

“To know that Christmas Day is probably going to be the brightest day so many nursing home residents have had all year is just so special,” Tucker said. “It’s the absolute best feeling. It’s amazing to think we’ve helped and personally delivered or sent checks to 34 nursing homes in 15 counties. It’s just incredible. We were thinking with the pandemic, we would be able to help 15 nursing homes at the max, but God had other plans.”

The idea behind “Help Us Help Kids From 1 to 92” was to raise a certain amount per nursing home – some were given $1,000, for example – and then, nursing home staff could use the money to organize an event they thought would best suit residents. While Holbrook on the Hill has opted to serve a special Christmas lunch and dinner to residents, the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg used the money from the Band of Brothers to coordinate an angel tree event for its residents.

“For me, the most thrilling part of this is that come Christmas morning, about 3,000 nursing home residents are going to have the best day that they have had this year because of the generosity of the people in this community and across several states … from everywhere,” Tucker said, mentioning one donor lived as far away as Zanesville, Ohio. “They are going to have their day brightened knowing so many people care.”

“Somehow, we did this in a pandemic year,” he added. “We know who led this; God led this.”

Over the past week while Tucker has been recovering from surgery, the Band of Brothers members headed up to Clarksburg to deliver 110 specially made, frosted cookies, scenic calendars, hand-carved wooden crosses and Christmas cards to every resident at the Veterans Nursing Facility. Although he wasn’t able to attend, Tucker and the other brothers wanted to thank Renee Warner, Debbie Huber, Angela Errett and Phil Swisher for assisting with that endeavor.

The Band of Brothers recently delivered 110 Christmas cards containing a hopeful message (pictured above), specialty cookies, wooden crosses and the 2021 West Virginia Scenic Calendar to all the residents at the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg as part of their ‘Help Us Help Kids from 1 to 92’ initiative. / Photo courtesy Al Tucker

In total, the Band of Brothers raised nearly $53,000 and will even be able to donate money to several organizations in and around Upshur County that serve youth and other people in need, including the Christmas Store, Northern Appalachian Teen Challenge, the Brushstroke Ministries backpack program, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church’s youth program, a prison angel tree ministry program, the Upshur County Senior Center and the Upshur Parish House.

The inside of the Christmas card West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility residents received from the Band of Brothers. / Photo courtesy Al Tucker

“We covered every nursing home in the north-central region of West Virginia,” Tucker said. “We’ve covered everything we’ve usually done and more – all because we saw a need and decided to take it on, and then it resonated with far more people than we had ever imagined.”

Specialty cookies prepared by Debbie Huber for Veterans Nursing Home Facility residents and delivered by the Band of Brothers. / Photo courtesy Al Tucker

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