Twenty-nine members of the South Whitehall Township Police Department, and 13 Orefield Middle School teachers participated in this year’s No Shave November fundraiser.
The goal of the fundraiser was to increase awareness by embracing their hair, something many cancer patients lose, with the officers and teachers growing beards or goatees.
Each officer needed to donate a minimum $50 of his own money which would have typically been spent on shaving and grooming to participate.
In addition to OMS teachers, the school had a fundraiser for students and female staff and asked them to bring in lose change to donate.
The homeroom classrooms raising the most money were treated to doughnuts delivered by South Whitehall police officers with help from Upper Macungie Township Police Officer Bill Rohrbach.
The proceeds, $2,462.28 collected by South Whitehall police and OMS students and staff were donated to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley.
South Whitehall Police Chief John Christman and Jason Klinger, an eighth-grade science teacher at OMS, both commented on the fundraiser.
“At the South Whitehall Police Department, we are very fortunate to have the support of our community,” Christman said. “To maintain that support, it is important for us to participate in community events and show our appreciation for local organizations.”
Christman said last year was the first time his staff participated in the No Shave November fundraiser.
“We chose the PCFLV because our officers were inspired by their program,” Christman said.
“This year when we were discussing which charity to choose a very senior Patrol Officer Richard Meckes said ‘Let’s help the kids again,’ so here we are.”
Klinger said he heard about the No Shave November fundraiser from School Resource Officer Darvin Faust.
“Our school was already hosting a No Shave November fundraiser and he thought it would be a great idea to have Parkland and the South Whitehall Police Department join up and support a cause,” he emailed The Press. “Our reason for collecting for the Pediatric Foundation of the Lehigh Valley was twofold.
“First, Officer Faust introduced us to the idea and second we have a student at the school who suffers from the disease.
“We have been working to educate and raise awareness for pediatric cancer at our school in the recent weeks.”
Klinger said the fundraiser has been a great opportunity for Parkland to reach out into the community and beyond.
“I hope in the future we can continue to work with the South Whitehall Police Department and raise money for a great cause,” he stated.
OMS teachers who took part in the fundraiser included Klinger, Brian Holtzhafer, Samuel Rhodes, Todd Gombos, Stephen Ott, Carlos Montes, Brian Fulmer, Michael Messerschmidt, Craig Waters, Patrick Murphy, Michael Palazzo, Mark Stana and Michael Ottlinger. South Whitehall Sgt. Ron Scholler and Sgt. Steve Brown explained why they took part.
Scholler said he has been cleaned shaved for 27 years, six years while in the Air Force and 21 years as a South Whitehall police officer.
“This is very different for me,” he said.
He said as a veteran and police officer, public service is in his blood.
“The desire to hold charitable causes runs right in line with my career,” Scholler said. “This is always an easy choice, itchy but easy.”
“Half way through November I complained to my fiancée about my beard itching while rigorously scratching my face and I declared ‘I’m so ready for this to be over.
“Danielle replied, ‘I’m sure kids with cancer feel the same way.’
“Suddenly my beard didn’t itch anymore.”
Brown has been cleaned shaved from the time he was in the military, so growing facial hair is always a challenge for him.
He said between the itchiness and patchiness, it is hard for him to go without shaving, but this cause is very important to him.
“I unfortunately encounter young cancer patients throughout the course of my job and it is very hard to see,” Brown stated. “A highlight of this month (November) was being able to do a morning show with a young cancer survivor at Orefield Middle School.
“It was very uplifting to her outgoing and enthusiastic personality.”
Editor’s note: In Part II, Allentown Fire Chief Lee Laubach discusses reasons why the Allentown Fire Department took part in the Pediatric Cancer Society of the LV fundraiser.