Beards for Bucks

Male personnel in the Vandalia and Fayette County law enforcement agencies are growing facial hair this Thanksgiving, but it’s not to keep them warm.
Instead, those men are being allowed to disregard policies on facial hair this month in order to help raise funds for local projects.
Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray is allowing his male officers and dispatchers to grow beards, goatees and mustaches if they agree to participate in the department’s Shop with a Cop.
Through Shop with a Cop, officers volunteer to take children in less-fortunate families shopping for clothes and, depending on the amount of funds available, a toy or two.
“We hope to take five to 10 kids shopping, depending on how much money we have to work with,” Ray said.
The program is being funded with a donation from a local business, as well as monetary gifts from local residents.
Ray said that he had thought about doing the Shop with a Cop program in the past, “but it’s always been a matter of where we get the money.”
It was implemented this year, he said, after he was approached by Kristen Bowling, a local Land of Lincoln Credit Union employee and wife of VPD Detective Jake Bowling.
Bowling told Ray that Land of Lincoln would provide the first donation for the project.
Then, remembering that Walmart had previously offered to help with such a program, Ray went back to store officials, who agreed to be a part of Shop with a Cop.
Ray said that residents may also help fund the program by dropping off or mailing donations to the police department at 219 S. Fifth St.
At the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, each of the male deputies or correctional officers who decided to grow facial hair was asked to select a local charity or program and to raise funds for that purpose, according to Sheriff Aaron Lay.
All of the money raised, Lay said, will go to the charity or program selected by the employee who raised the most money by this Wednesday.

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