BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Western New York Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers received a check for $3,250 during a presentation at City Hall this week.
Ann Davis, the president of the local Gold Star Mothers chapter, calls Bob James, the man who made that donation possible, ‘an angel’.
For his part, James says he was inspired to act after hearing stories like those of Davis’ family.
“I became a Gold Star Mother 30 years ago, April 19, 1989, along with 47 other parents,” Davis told News 4.
Davis is president of a club no one ever wants to be part of. Her son was killed in an explosion on the USS Iowa while he was serving in the US Navy. He was 21 years old.
Davis vowed to carry on her son’s oath to serve, and joined other Gold Star Mothers in their mission to serve other veterans and their families.
“Any support they need. They have toys, clothing, food,” Davis explained, “and the emotional support that they get from us is everything in the world.”
Providing that support is just a little easier thanks to the check Mayor Byron Brown helped present to Gold Star Mothers Thursday morning at City Hall.
Gold Star Mothers also receive food to distribute every year from the KIA Memorial Roadmarch at Chestnut Ridge.
Jason Jaskula founded that march in 2013 to honor the 330 military members in New York State who have been killed in action since 9/11.
Since the event started, it has collected well over 150,000 pounds of food for Gold Star Mothers and other organizations.
“We’re not a billion dollar company that comes in, provides, a race and then leaves,” Jaskula said. ” We actually give food back to the community, we raise awareness that there were military members that were killed in action, and that we’re still in a war.”
That message hit home for Bob James at last year’s KIA Roadmarch. James is the music director for Buffalo Blues and was playing with his band at the event.
“The chaplain asked for a show of hands before he blessed the runners, he asked for a show of hands for Gold Star families that were there,” James recalled. “So many hands went up. It’s still emotional to think about it. I was shocked.”
“I thought, that’s daughters and sons that never had the chance to be veterans,” he added.
For James, it was a call to action.
He’s a cabinet maker by trade and he got to work building an artisan cabin to be auctioned off at the annual Buffalo Blues Benefit concert, which has raised more than $60,000 for veterans organizations over the years.
James’ cabin brought in $5,000 at auction, and after recouping the cost of materials, that put $3,250 in the Gold Star Mothers’ hands.
“This is just a way for me to use the talents that I have to try to give back,” James said ahead of Thursday’s check presentation.
James is already onto his next project, building another artisan cabin to be auctioned off in a few months.
This time, Paul Ciminelli of Ciminelli Real Estate has donated the building materials, so the entire purchase price can go to charity.