ALTON — If you’ve noticed members of the Alton Police Department bearing a slight resemblance to Grizzly Adams the past few weeks, trust it was for good reason.
With permission from the chief, members of the force grew out their beards in an effort to raise money for the Crisis Food Center in Alton. Department regulations normally allow a trimmed mustache, but no beards or goatees.
“Some of the guys on the department are trying to get us to have this all year round, but I don’t think they will go for that,” Lt. David DeWall said, laughing.
This is the second year in a row the department has donated to the food pantry.
“It came about almost from a joke,” DeWall said. “Sgt. (Shane) Gibbs is a big hunter and likes to grow a beard in November. He said we should do something like this so that he doesn’t have to shave when he gets back from hunting.”
Realizing the potential, DeWall approached Alton Police Chief Jason “Jake” Simmons with the idea of turning it into a fundraiser.
“It just snowballed from there,” DeWall said.
Simmons allowed the officers and others in the department to donate $20; in return, the men could grow beards through November (and two weeks into December if they donated an additional $10), and women could wear jeans to work on Fridays.
Last year, the department raised $860. This year, it surpassed its goal, raising $920. DeWall said extending the fundraiser into December increased the total.
Rose Brown, who has been a volunteer for Crisis Food Center for 14 years and serves on the Board of Directors, said the department would be sending the pantry a check.
“It was over before we even knew it was for us,” Brown said. “We knew they were holding the fundraiser, but we did not know who it was for.
“We were very surprised when we got the call.”
The idea of no-shave November, or “Movember” (a combination of “mustache” and “November”) was born of an effort to encourage men to not shave during the month to raise awareness for men’s health issues. In the past few years, the movement has grown to benefit many charities and organizations, with the goal of donating any money that would regularly be spent on grooming for a one-month period.
Crisis Food Center, 21 E. Sixth St., offers assistance for those in need through a food pantry as well as a clothing (as well as small items such as blankets, towels, etc.) shop, which is open from 9:30 a.m. until noon and 12:30 until 2 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays and 9 a.m. until noon and 1 until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, pending available volunteer staff.
For more information, call (618) 462-8201.