STONINGTON — An effort by Connecticut law enforcement officers to "be hairy for charity" proved more productive than expected, producing a total of $91,126 in donations that will be given to the Connecticut Cancer Foundation.
Stonington police, one of several dozen departments to take part in the friendly statewide competition for No-Shave November, raised $2,615 for the cause, over $600 more than their goal. At the neighboring Town of Groton Police Department, officers passed their goal with $4,025 raised.
Officials said 100 percent of all those donations go to the Connecticut Cancer Foundation and will be used to help the state's cancer patients and their families.
"Every officer who takes an oath here has a desire to help others, and be part of something bigger than themselves to make a positive impact," said Stonington Detective Greg Howard. "It’s exciting for us to get these opportunities to help people in our state in a way different from our every day service."
The competition, which was held for the first time this year as part of the national No-Shave November challenge, led to unexpected support for the foundation. Connecticut Cancer Foundation officials said on their website that when the organization first started taking donations in October, the goal was to reach $50,000.
Before Thanksgiving, however, word had spread and donations exceeded that goal. A new goal was set for $80,000 and a push during the final two days led to a late surge that shattered the second goal as well.
In Stonington, Howard said participating officers paid in through the union to participate. The concept, he and Capt. Todd Olson said, was to "forgo shaving" — as a police organization, those participating were required to keep beards professional and trimmed — in order to raise awareness about cancer and to use the money saved to support those who need assistance.
To put a face behind the effort, the foundation this year chose to support 15-year-old Wes, a Connecticut resident battling metastatic Ewing's sarcoma. As ambassador, his family will receive a large grant based on what No Shave November raises.
Howard said this is one of the reasons the department supported the effort, and noted that it would look to build on this and other charitable efforts moving forward.
"Be it No Shave November, or our upcoming Stuff-A-Cruiser, we are grateful and honored for the community involvement we get in our continued efforts to make a positive impact on the lives of many people," Howard said. "This commitment reaffirms the partnership this community shares with its police department, and it reassures our officers that our citizens support them."