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Local police departments skip shaving to raise money for charity

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 8, 2019

METRO DETROIT — A partnership that began several years ago with a wig for one child has expanded to police departments across the state, where officers are growing their beards in an effort to raise money and awareness for children experiencing hair loss.

Pigs 4 Wigs is an initiative during No Shave November, during which local police officers donate money to Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, which provides wigs and support services for children experiencing hair loss in Michigan at no cost to their families, in exchange for skipping their shaving routine for the month.

Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan CEO Maggie Varney said that the partnership began seven years ago with the Milford Police Department. One of the officers learned about the organization because he knew a child receiving services from the group, and Varney went out to meet with the department.

“It was just a great experience, and they were so impressed with the work that we do and the services that we provide for the kids,” she said.

That first year, the Milford Police Department raised enough money to sponsor a wig for a child. The following year, she said, they approached her about getting other departments involved in connection with No Shave November, when men don’t shave their beards and raise money for a cause.

Milford Police Detective Dan Caldwell said that they developed the idea of calling it Pigs 4 Wigs.

“We embraced the stereotype and turned it into something good,” he said.

He said most of the department’s 20 officers participate in the event, paying $50 to go without shaving for the month. Female members of the department participate with relaxed rules for nail polish and earrings in Milford, he explained.

“The first couple years we did it, it was primarily just a community-based fundraiser,” Caldwell said. “We pulled in a lot of money from businesses and people bringing in donations. In 2015, I decided that we’d like to keep it organic within the law enforcement community and reached out to other local departments that decided they wanted to participate, and it’s grown from there.”

Now 16 departments, including police in St. Clair Shores, Roseville, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Keego Harbor and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, participate. Pigs 4 Wigs has raised more than $88,000 over the years.

“I hope it continues to grow and other departments continue to jump on board, because it’s a great cause,” Caldwell said.

Varney said that the program also brings awareness to Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan whenever a police officer who hasn’t shaved in a few weeks interacts with the public.

“The minute they stop somebody or they’re out someplace, people will go, what’s going on?” she said. “It has really been great.

“I think it shows kids, too, that ... (police) give back to the community in so many ways that people are not aware of.”

This is the second year that St. Clair Shores police have participated in Pigs 4 Wigs. Officer Todd Bing said 35 officers are taking part.

“Wigs 4 Kids is in our city, and we’re always looking for opportunities to help those in need,” he said. “And it’s fun for the officers; they get to wear a beard.”

Caldwell said that attending the Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan Gala each year is a great opportunity for them to see the funds they have raised at work.

“That’s really eye-opening. You’re able to see the results of the work that you’ve done or the donations that have been given,” he said. “The fact that they do this at no cost to the families or the kids, that’s really what drew us to Wigs 4 Kids.”

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