Thursday, March 21, 2013

Students shear locks in annual Progress fundraiser

by Ashley Gill, Guest Writer

Clipped strands and buzzed bits of hair floated to the ground to form fuzzy piles in the Anderson University Center last Friday. The former owners of the locks sat on stools surrounded by peers for the Progress club’s annual Save it or Shave it! fundraising event.

Participants and club members have two donation cans, a can for ‘shave it’ and a can for ‘save it.’ People who donate to the participants’ cans choose which they would like to put money toward.

The week-long fundraiser proceeds go toward the Free Care Fund at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma. The fund helps families pay for their children’s medical expenses that are either not covered by insurance or that the family is unable to afford.

At the end of the week, the money for each participant is counted and the fate of the club member’s head of hair is decided based on which can has more money.

“I’m happy to shave my head for children who don’t have the ability to pay for medical bills,” junior Andrew Kunitomo said. He had never had his head shaved before and said he felt “bald” afterward.

Most of the participants raised enough money in their save it cans to salvage their hair. First-year and Progress club member Emily Steelquist was among them. “I was really excited to see the response from my family and friends online because they all donated lots of money, which is really fabulous,” Steelquist said.

This year, five people had more donations in their shave it cans than save it. Four had their heads shaved, and the fifth’s locks where saved by a last-minute donation to the save it can.

As a participant who left the save it or shave it event with a much shorter haircut, sophomore Kristin Hayes said, “It was fantastic, it was very exhilarating.”

Hayes later said, “sometimes you have to do something extreme like that to get people’s attention, and just knowing how much money we raise for the kids is so exciting.”

First-year Ella Anderson, another participant whose head was shaved, talked about the importance of raising money for the Free Care Fund.

Anderson said, “I got a lot of questions about why I would do it when I already had short hair. I said that every single penny helps.”

Senior Renee Bedard, a Progress co-president who helped run the shaving event and cut hair, said, “it’s super fun because the money all goes to a great cause. Everyone has a good time, and we love doing it — shaving some heads!”

Bedard had her head completely shaved her first year. Now a senior, she has long brown hair just below her shoulders. She said the club is hoping to raise as much as they did last year, which amounted to over $6,000.

So far, Progress has raised close to $4,000, not yet including the coins or last-minute donations.

The Progress club has another fundraising event in the fall, the Sign Me! drive, where proceeds also go to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Participants allow people who donate to write whatever they wish on any visible part of the fundraisers’ bodies with a marker.