BRUNSWICK — Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it might just grow on beards.
The Brunswick Police Department union has raised a total of $1,100 in its first-ever “No-Shave November” initiative.
On Nov. 1, 21 of the Brunswick Police Benefit Association’s 29 members put their razors away for the month and started growing beards, according to Officer Daniel Sylvain, the union’s president.
All union members who chose to participate donated $25 to a fund slated for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. The amount will be matched by the union.
Sylvain said last week that he was pleased with the high rate of participation.
“I know some people are tight around money, and honestly we don’t really get paid that much,” he said. “(Twenty-five dollars) is groceries for two days for a family.”
“I’m very happy people were generous enough to go do this,” he added.
Sylvain said he had to do a little legwork to get the initiative off the ground. There’s a policy that allows police officers to grow mustaches, he said, but normally growing a full beard is prohibited.
But after hearing the fundraising idea, department administration agreed to a temporary suspension of the rules, he said.
One administrating officer who no longer belongs to the union, Patrol Cmdr. Marc Hagan, even decided to participate, Sylvain said.
In an interview Monday, Hagan said because he was hired by the department when he was 22, he’s actually never had the chance to grow a full beard in his life.
“I had no idea what it would look like,” he said. “This was a good cause, and a good little distraction for the guys.”
There were still some guidelines, however, so the fundraiser didn’t turn into a beard-growing free-for-all.
“We had to shave our necks … if they got too long, we had to clean and trim it up so we didn’t look too grubby,” Sylvain said.
And, he added, “people in town are telling us we look really good, and they like it.”
Sylvain said that although he is personally “not one for long facial hair … my wife likes it, so if she likes it, I like it.”
The bearded officers presented a $1,100 check to two representatives from the American Cancer Society on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Police Department.
“A $1,100 check is a huge donation, and they should be incredibly proud of that,” society representative Dawn Emery said Monday.
She said the money would be used to fund cancer research and free services for cancer patients and survivors “in Maine and across the nation,” along with other programs.
Emery added that donations like the one made by the police help her office in Topsham provide things like a free wig bank, and free rides to treatment for those affected by all kinds of cancer.
As December approaches, officers are enjoying the sunset of their bearded days. When Dec. 1 hits, they’ll have to shave them off.
But the fundraiser has been such a success, Sylvain said, they may have a chance for a repeat next year.
And as for the $1,100 they raised, “every year, we’re going to try to beat that amount,” he added.
Patrol Cmdr. Marc Hagan, left, and Patrol Officer Terry Goan display their November beards at the Brunswick Police Department.