VILLA PARK – The beards, goatees and mustaches sported by Willowbrook High School faculty will be removed today, but the fundraising efforts will continue into March.
Throughout this month, 27 teachers and staff members grew out their facial hair as part of the school’s Seventh annual Facial Hair February, a fundraising effort to benefit the American Cancer Society.
“The name does it justice,” said Willowbrook math teacher Ryan Bazon, coordinator for Facial Hair February. “We have a number of male faculty members who forgo shaving for the month in the hopes that they can raise funds for the American Cancer Society.”
During the month, participants find unique ways to solicit donations from students, staff and the community. For math teacher Mike Phillips, that means a friendly competition between all five of his classes to see who can raise the most. The top donating class gets a pizza party.
“We let them know what we’re trying to do,” Phillips said. “Students donate loose change and they get really involved with it.”
What began as a fundraiser between about six staff members – the first year raised less than $200 – has grown into a schoolwide contest, Bazon said. In its first six years, the fundraiser collected $21,000.
This year, the goal is $5,000.
“It really has become a fundraiser where the school as a whole community has started to get involved,” Bazon said.
On Thursday, to conclude Facial Hair February, participants each had a headshot taken of themselves, and those photos will be posted in the school cafeteria with a corresponding bucket. As a last push, students can donate to the staff member with the facial hair design they enjoy the most.
For the past three years, the fundraiser has been held in collaboration with the school’s Blue Crew Brook Olympics, a spirit week also intended as a fundraising engine for the American Cancer Society, explained social studies teacher Matt Scott, who co-sponsors the Blue Crew with Cristy Hebreard.
The Brook Olympics, held from March 10 to 14, pits each grade level against each other in activities and games where participants earn medals and team points similar to the Olympic Games, Scott said.
Along with the competition, the students sell T-shirts and other memorabilia, with profits being rolled into the Facial Hair February donations and the total being donated during the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of District 88 Youth on March 15.
On the final day of the Olympics, an assembly is held where teams can make a final push to donate to their favorite Facial Hair February participant, at which time the totals are collected and a winner is announced, Scott said.
Between Facial Hair February and the Brook Olympics, the school community has a nice collaboration leading into Relay For Life, Bazon said.
“The kids realize it’s bigger than just who they are – that there is a greater good out there helping people,” he said. “Every year we always get one or two kids that will thank you because their parents or someone they know is sick.”
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How to donate
To contribute to the American Cancer Society in honor of Facial Hair February, contact Ryan Bazon at 630-782-3022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be mailed to Willowbrook High School, 1250 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park, IL. 60181 C/O Ryan Bazon.