LA GRANGE HIGHLANDS – Tom Hinshaw’s Buzz for BEDS fundraiser raised $38,000 in the past three years for La Grange’s BEDS Plus, which provides shelter and assistance for people who are homeless.
Hinshaw enjoys helping the organization, where he volunteered several years ago, but his favorite moments involve the kids who participate in the event, raise money and then get their heads shaved.
After the event, he’ll see kids with shaved heads at a baseball game and overhear them being asked why they are bald.
“And they say, ‘I shave my head to help the homeless,’” Hinshaw said. “The kids are happy to explain why they’re bald.”
The fourth annual Buzz for BEDS took place at La Grange Highlands Middle School on Friday. The school partners with Assisting the Homeless, an organization started by Hinshaw, to put on the event, which raised $5,400 as of Sunday night. Hinshaw expects that number to increase, because he’s still receiving donations.
The event first took place in Hinshaw’s backyard after friends told him they’d pay 10 or 20 bucks if he shaved his head. (He then donated the money.) After several years, Hinshaw partnered with the school to create a fundraiser that doubles as an end of the school year party with an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, dunk tank and other games.
The highlight, though, is the head-shaving. Last year, 78 people had their heads shaved, including four girls. Girls who want to keep their hair can participate by receiving feathers or extensions. Shaving help comes from employees from three local salons – Hair Cuttery, Olivia Jean and Baci.
“I think it’s a fun, tangible way that the kids can get involved,” said Tina Rounds, executive director of BEDS Plus, who will be at the event.
On May 10, a group of students from the school visited BEDS Plus to learn about homelessness and serve lunch at the organization’s support center.
BEDS shelters have served 211 people since July 2012, twice as many as it served the previous year. Rounds attributes the increase to the organization’s additional outreach and effects of the recession that started in 2008.
“We’re all just a couple tragedies … away from being in a position where we could be [homeless],” Rounds said.
In addition to the La Grange Highlands fundraiser, Hinshaw is trying a new event called Buzzapalooza to get high school students involved. Buzzapalooza will be from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Denning Park. The event is open to everyone and will feature music, food and an iPad Mini raffle in addition to head shaving.
Donations to Assisting the Homeless can be made online at www.assistingthehomeless.org/donate.html.