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Sheriff’s office raises cancer awareness

Deputies participate in no-shave November

Blair County Sheriff’s Office deputies show off their beards Wednesday / Mirror photo by Ike Fredregill

Blair County Sheriff Jim Ott’s deputies are putting away their razors and letting their beards grow in November to help raise cancer awareness and support their fellow first responders.

As part of the Beards for Brothers initiative, a fundraising campaign for Pennsylvanian first responders battling cancer, Ott said he rolled back his office’s shaving policy for a month.

“I’m old school, and I require my deputies to be clean-shaven every day,” Ott said. “But, we saw this as an opportunity to support our brothers and sisters in the emergency services while boosting morale.”

In its seventh year, Beards for Brothers is a localized fundraising initiative contributed to by firefighters, emergency medical personnel, emergency dispatchers and law enforcement members throughout the Commonwealth.

Each year, Beards for Brothers members select a first responder, an immediate family member of a first responder, who is currently battling cancer, or an organization from the community, which is supporting the fight against cancer, to help with their contributions.

For 2020, the initiative designated two benefactors — a police officer’s wife in West Hempfield and a Fraternal Order of Police chaplain in Lancaster.

Ott said the initiative was brought to his attention by one of his deputies, and he saw an opportunity to not only support a good cause, but also to grant his deputies a chance to give back to the community.

“I think it’s great for us to be able to support other people, especially at a crucial time of need,” he said. “The emergency services as a whole go above and beyond to help each other out, and this is just one example.”

Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kermit Alwine said a Beard for Brothers gofundme campaign — www.gofund

me.com/f/beards-for-brothers-2020 — was set up as a way for everyone to participate in the event.

“In the current climate, it’s great to have the community stand with us or behind us,” Alwine said. “This gives emergency services (personnel) a much needed lifeline when they are out there giving their all to serve the people.”

Ott said this was the first year his office participated in the initiative, and so far they’ve raised $270 for the campaign.

Toiling about the office Wednesday, Ott’s deputies were in high spirits as they joked about who had the best beard and how dropping the shaving policy made their mornings a little less hectic.

“It’s nice not to have to shave twice a day,” Sgt. R.J. Peo Jr. joked, as other deputies chimed in with suggestions the sergeant had been shaving since he was 2 years old.

Deputy Larry Hopkins said shaving every morning was a trivial task, but saving a few minutes each day made a big difference in his mood at work.

“At least this month, I can sleep in just a few minutes longer,” he said, chuckling. “It’s also good that this is something we can all do to help others.”

Go to www.gofundme.com/f/beards-for-brothers-2020 for more information about the initiative or to donate.

Mirror Staff Writer Ike

Fredregill is at 814-946-7458.

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