BUCKHANNON – If you’ve been waiting to purchase a picture-perfect present for a West Virginia-loving family member while simultaneously supporting Upshur County youth, don’t wait too much longer.
The Band of Brothers Calendar Sale has sold almost 900 out of their 1,000 calendars, which feature breathtaking photos from various locales around the Mountain State.
Band of Brothers member and photographer Al Tucker said the Band of Brothers are a group of 15 Christian men who represent about seven different churches that try to help the youth of West Virginia. The annual calendar fundraiser goes toward all their projects to help youth programs.
“I have been doing a calendar of West Virginia for about 10 years and for most of that time, I initially did them for family and friends and I wasn’t selling them and some people at my church at Chapel Hill saw them and said ‘I would like to buy one,’ and so I said, ‘Well, I’m not out to make money one these,’ but they still said they would like to buy one,” Tucker said. “I started selling a couple hundred and just staying within the confines of their church, and whatever money that I made out of selling, it all went to the mission projects.”
He said a member of their church told Tucker several years ago he should expand on the calendars and make it a wider fundraiser.
“We said, ‘well let’s give it a try,’ and so four years ago we were facing the destruction of those awful floods down in southern West Virginia, and we thought ‘well, you know there’s people going to have a hard Christmas down there,’” Tucker said. “We started selling calendars and getting quite a few donations, and we were able to take Christmas presents.”
With the funds they raised from selling the calendars, they were able to take boxes of food and Christmas presents to Clay, Webster and Kanawha counties.
“It was such a blessing to be able to do that, and the following year in Wetzel County they had two weekends in a row they had what they call a hundred-year flood so we went out and helped people out there,” Tucker said. “Those people were so great.”
“Every penny that we make on one of these calendars, it goes to our projects,” Tucker said. “We did a number of things here, the Christmas Store, we funded a backpack program, youth mission groups and we help a couple of missionaries that go to Haiti and Guatemala and those kinds of projects.”
Most recently, the group took $3,000 for parents to purchase school supplies to the town of Harman in Randolph County in August following another flood.
This year, however, the funds are staying close to home and will be earmarked to assist programs that help youth of Upshur County.
“That brought us to this year, and we said, ‘there is a big need in Upshur County, so let’s stay home this year,”’ Tucker said. “We already supported one program in previous years, a local angel tree prison program, so this Sunday, there’s 30 kids whose parents are in jail and they are going to have a Christmas party. They’ll get gifts and they’ll get with the parent in prison and have them write something that will go with the present.”
He said they also plan to support the Christmas Store and backpack programs, as they have in the past, but this year their focus project will be a new program.
“We found out that just an unbelievable number of kids in this county and other counties in West Virginia are being raised by somebody other than their parents because of the drug epidemic,” Tucker said. “We’ve heard it quoted over 50 percent of the kids in the Upshur County School system are being raised by a grandparent or maybe an aunt or something like that, so we’ve heard about a grandparents program that the senior center is in the process of getting started and we decided to make that our major focus.”
To read more about the Healthy Grandfamilies program the Band of Brothers will be aiding, click here.
He said they are still working to decide what the Band of Brothers will do to help this program, but they hope to find out in the following week. Other programs they plan to work with this year include church youth groups, the Stockert Youth & Community Center, Young Life and 4-H.
“There’s just so many kids in this county that need some help, and we’re trying to help them so we’re trying to sell calendars,” Tucker said. “We’ve got 1,000 printed, and we’re just within about 15 to having 900 sold.”
Each calendar costs $15 and features pictures from across West Virginia, including a picture of Upshur County.
He said last year they were able to sell all 1,000 calendars, and the group hopes to meet that goal again this year.
For those interested in purchasing calendars, contact Al Tucker at 304-704-4292, Tim Rock at 304-642-2555, Kevin Hawkins at 304-613-8566, Bill Nicholson at 304-439-4170 or John Simons at 304-613-4063.