For the third year in a row, Hamburg Borough Police officers stopped shaving for the month of November, raising funds through No Shave November.
The Hamburg Police Officers’ Association raised $1,000 and recently presented donations of $500 each to two Hamburg area families.
“It’s great to see the community come together for a good cause,” said Hamburg Mayor George Holmes.
“I am very happy the police association was able to find deserving families to help, especially in these stressful times. The need is always great, and these officers have stepped up to help,” added Holmes. “We all get help from others in life, in ways both big and small. Often one good turn deserves another, so the benefits will continue long after the money is spent.”
The donation drive was conducted by the Hamburg Police Officers’ Association during the month November via a GoFundMe page.
Normally, law enforcement cannot grow facial hair except for a mustache. During No Shave November, participating officers are allowed to grow their beards to raise funds for a family in need.
“It’s a good example of community policing that both the Chief and Borough Council have encouraged. It’s important for the community to feel comfortable with the officers, as (they) are the first line of defense in public safety,” said Holmes.
“The goal for participating in No Shave November is to build community relations and trust,” said Hamburg Borough Police Officer Ryan Brobst. “To show the public we do more than just enforce the law and arrest people. We contribute to the community in a positive way that everyone can see and agree upon.”
“Many people see police as militaristic or robotic by their nature,” Brobst continued. “They see the uniform, the badge, and the tools on our belts and feel we are all the same. While some departments allow officers to have some form of facial hair, it is rare and still very regulated. In being allowed the opportunity to grow a full beard or goatee during the month of November, we can show the general public a different face, both literally and figuratively. We are ordinary people just like everyone else.”
Hamburg Borough Police Chief Anthony M. Kuklinski agreed.
“The goal of the No Shave November was to foster community involvement by the officers. The officers are having fun doing it and the residents see the benefit to the event,” said Kuklinski. “It is a community outreach. This job is all about community involvement.”
Other community involvement activities include bike patrols, foot patrols, officers in the schools, community education programs and officers out checking businesses at night time.
“(No Shave November) shows the community that the officers are regular guys and want to embrace community involvement,” said Kuklinski.
“A lot of people talk to you about your beard,” said Hamburg Police Officers’ Association President Keven Chase. “It gets us interacting more. The best part is that it helps people see us in a different light, that we are actual people.”
The officers enjoy having the opportunity to grow a beard while being able to help somebody, he said.
“It’s nice not having to shave for the month of November, especially having to shave every day. We all look forward to it,” he said.
In its first year, the No Shave fundraiser benefited one family. Chase is pleased they were able to help two families this year and hopes to grow the donation to help more families in the future.
“It makes us all happy, especially with COVID, that people were willing to donate to us. I was very impressed with how much people give,” said Chase. “My favorite part is that we get to help people in need, particularly during the holidays.”
The association worked with Hamburg Area School District to find a student in need. That student’s information is not being released by request. The second donation went to Brantlee Phillips of the Hamburg area who celebrated his 7th birthday on Jan. 8.
“When I got the phone call from Officer Chase, I started crying and was immediately humbled,” said Brantlee’s mother, Leann Wheeland.
“Due to being a single mom of two, and just pouring all the spare change I had into giving them a Christmas and keeping up with bills, I was worried about how I was going to give Brantlee a birthday party and we've been wanting to redo his room and give him a ‘big boy’ room. Now we can do that,” said Wheeland.
Brantlee also enjoyed meeting the officers.
“Ever since his spinal cord injury, he aspires to be a K9 handler and has always loved interaction with the police. He was beaming all evening after spending time with the officers of the Hamburg Police Association. They even gave him some badges that we will have on display in his new room,” said Wheeland.
“More people need to see the good that the men and woman in uniform do,” she added.
“You don’t realize how much it helps,” Chase said about the donations. “The Hamburg Borough Police Department and Hamburg Police Association is very thankful that the Hamburg community gives us so much support, especially in a time in need, because without them, we couldn’t do it.”
He expressed gratitude for the businesses and individuals who contributed.
“We’re thankful for everybody involved because it helped two families tremendously in a time of need, especially now,” said Chase. “We look forward to continuing the tradition.”