by Alan Tucker
Sharing God’s glory through photos of his magnificent creation is a real joy. About ten years ago I decided to create a calendar that I called Al’s Almost Heaven Calendar, depicting the beauty of West Virginia. I gifted it to family and friends. Several people saw it at my church and asked if they could buy a copy. I never intended to make money on it, so that first year I sold it at cost. There seemed to be a demand. So the next year, I printed a few hundred and the money I made from the sales I donated to our church’s youth ministry. Each year, the demand for calendars kept getting bigger, and I was able to donate more each year to our youth ministry.
I am blessed to belong to an active Christian men’s group (Band of Brothers) that has strengthened my faith in Jesus immeasurably. In addition to Spirit-led Bible studies, we try very hard to put our faith in action. I am humbled by what my brothers do to bring glory to God. Three years ago, the idea blossomed that we could bless many people and especially children if we could raise enough funds through the sale of the calendars. As you know, the need is overwhelming. We took a leap of faith to answer His call to help kids locally, statewide and internationally. Amazingly, He showed us the way.
Two years ago, a devastating flood hit southern West Virginia. We knew some families had lost everything and their Christmas looked as bleak as can be. With the help of a state coordinator, we were able to identify families in three counties that needed help. Our group made trips with truckloads of food and Christmas presents to those families. The Band of Brothers returned in Easter with more food and with Easter candy. Seeing the tears of joy and appreciation and watching the children’s excitement receiving their gifts is something I will always remember. Having people say “bless you for your kindness” and “I didn’t think we would have a Christmas this year” blessed us even more. Last Christmas, the Band of Brothers relived that joy as we helped 65 families in Hundred, WV, with food for Christmas and New Year. I’ll never forget one lady saying she was so happy that she was going to have food in her refrigerator.
I could recount several stories on help the Band of Brothers has provided missionaries in Haiti, Guatemala and Canada (working with Native American youth). The photo above is of a little girl who lives in a stench-filled shanty town on a massive dump in Guatemala and is helped by one of the missionaries we support. Similarly, we strongly support an area prison ministry, a state-wide drug recovery program, and local backpack program so kids can eat on the weekends. Additionally, our group supports a food bank program, Christmas store for underprivileged kids, and the lists go on. Last year, we were able to raise about $20,000, all of which supported these programs. Two generous people paid for the printing of the calendars allowing us to maximize our reach for the past two years.
None of this would have happened without the support of individuals who purchased our calendar or other people and organizations who wanted to donate to “help us help kids.” People across the country either bought calendars or sent donations. Local churches, community organizations, and businesses also were very generous. We even had several people who volunteered to sell calendars. It is a wonderful thing to see people who want to put their faith in action by helping us live out our faith.
Our Band of Brothers will soon kick off our 2018 Help Us Help Kids project. We invite you once again to help us reveal God’s glory “by doing for the least of our brothers and sisters” this Christmas season.
Images: Backyard Photography, Alan Tucker