Area police officers grow beards, raise $4,154 for ailing kids

MIDDLEBURY — Members of three area law enforcement agencies retired their respective razors during the recent deer hunting season, and now they’re celebrating the payoff: A combined total of $4,154 raised for Camp-Ta-Kum-Ta, a camp in South Hero that provides respite, fun activities and support to children afflicted with cancer, and their families.
Participating officers were allowed to grow facial hair contrary to department grooming standards as long as they make a cash contribution of at least $30 to Camp-Ta-Kum-Ta. The approximately 20 officers got to model their beards, for one last time, for a celebratory photo at the Middlebury police headquarters on Dec. 20.
This year’s third annual “Deer Camp Beards for Kids with Cancer,” coordinated by Middlebury Police Officer Darrin Hinterneder, was wildly successful. Participating officers more than doubled the $2,002 total raised during last year’s “Beards” charity drive.
This year’s participants — who each committed to a $50 buy-in — included members of the Middlebury and Bristol police departments, as well as the Addison County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Don Keeler’s crew raised a total of $2,565. Middlebury Chief Tom Hanley’s force netted a total of $1,518. And the Bristol Police Department raised $71.
Longtime Middlebury Police Dispatcher Bonnie Murray proved the top individual fundraiser in the effort, gathering a whopping $550. While he didn’t choose to grow a beard, Keeler donated $200.
Officers didn’t actively solicit donations during the course of their duties, but explained the philanthropic effort to those who asked. And the beards provided a solid entrée into that conversation. Most police agencies require their officers to be clean-shaven, or limited to a mustache.
Several of the officers at the Dec. 20 photo op were barely recognizable. Chief Hanley looked like a less rotund version of St. Nick.
The beards are now gone, but will likely all reappear next fall with the start of bow season, when a new round of “Deer Camp Beards for Kids with Cancer” will kick off.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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