South Jersey is ditching the razors and shaving cream this month to raise money for cancer awareness and treatment.
People can partake in No Shave November by growing out their facial and body hair for AtlantiCare’s second annual Heroes of Hair campaign, which aims to raise at least $20,000 to support those undergoing cancer treatment and to educate people about cancer’s side effects, including hair loss.
“I think everyone has somebody in their lives who, at one point or another, has been affected by cancer,” said Lt. Robert Gray, of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department.
For members of the Police Department, the person who comes to mind quickly is Lt. David Algeri, 48, who died in May after a battle with cancer. Gray said when the department created its fundraising page, people began donating and sharing memories of the late officer.
“I never thought in a million years that we would be doing something like this in honor of someone who died of cancer while working here,” Gray said. “It’s a terrible disease, and we do our little part to help.”
The department’s team is the top fundraiser in the campaign, raising more than $3,370 as of Monday with the goal of $5,000.
Fundraiser participants are asked to donate the money they would usually spend monthly on shaving, waxing and grooming. The money will go to the AtlantiCare Treasure the Moment fund to help cancer patients in South Jersey.
Sean Coyle had a similar reason for organizing a fundraising team for Egg Harbor Township High School’s baseball players, coaches and fans.
Coyle, who is the team’s assistant coach, lost his father to cancer about five years ago.
“I was really close with my dad, who always had a mustache,” Coyle said. “He also was a coach and really known in the community, and he always had a crazy mustache, so I grow one in tribute to my dad.”
The baseball team has so far raised $848 toward a goal of $1,000. Brian Carmichael, the team’s head coach, said participation isn’t mandatory for team players, but interest has been high, even among alumni.
“It’s neat, because we’re dealing with kids 15, 16, 17 years old who are just starting to grow facial hair, so it’s a fun thing to do,” Carmichael said. “It’s something that shows what we do aside from the regular season.”
Participating in community fundraisers and events isn’t anything new for the athletes, Carmichael said, as players have previously taken part in St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving events and volunteer work at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Egg Harbor Township.
Coyle said he and Carmichael designed the baseball program to create successful teams but also to teach students how to be successful in their communities.
“We’re real big into baseball and love teaching the game, but we connect more with these kids through all the stuff we do,” he said. “We want to win titles, but our big goal is to make sure our guys remain active in the community and help point them in the right directions.”
The Heroes of Hair campaign will close Nov. 28 with a celebration at Tuckahoe Brewing Co., 3092 English Creek Ave., Egg Harbor Township, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event will be free to participants or supporters who raised a minimum of $25.
To participate or donate to the campaign and fundraising teams, visit atlanticare.org/noshave.