Summit County Sheriff’s Office gets hairy for charity
Summit County Sheriff’s deputies will be sporting some noticeable facial hair while in uniform throughout the next couple of months.
Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1, Sheriff Justin Martinez has given deputies carte blanche to grow their beards as part of the 2015 Fuzz Buster campaign. Deputies who interact with the public are not typically allowed to have facial hair other than a mustache or goatee while in uniform.
The second-annual campaign allows deputies to grow facial hair if they purchase a $33 beard permit. A private donor will match donations up to $1,500 and all proceeds from the permits will benefit the Utah 1033 foundation. The not-for-profit organization provides financial assistance to the families of fallen officers and student scholarships.
"In case someone sees a deputy growing a beard and they find it to be unprofessional, it is all for a good cause and it has 100 percent support of the sheriff," said Summit County Sgt. Ron Bridge.
The Fuzz Buster campaign started last year when Deputy Travis Hopper said he wanted to expand on the department’s mustache contest.
"Last year I was like, ‘we need to up the ante and let’s do something more to give back to the community,’" Hopper said. "I just wanted to give back to my brothers and sisters who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I wanted to help families at the worst possible time. I know nothing will ever fill that void, but they will know of the support from their family in blue."
Employees in the Sheriff’s Office can purchase the permits until December. During the last week of the campaign, which doubles as a competition, participating deputies will submit photos of their progress to be considered for the best, worst or funniest beard awards. The deputies are judged by the female officers.
"The main objective was to give back to these people that are going through hell and have lost their loved ones, that was my vision," Hopper said.
Last year, more than 50 employees participated in the campaign and raised over $2,000 through beard permits and private donations. A check was presented to the founders of the 1033 Foundation at the Sheriff’s Office holiday party.
"It meant to the world to me and I was on cloud nine to be able to give back to the community and to see the look in the foundation owners’ eyes it almost looked like they were in shock," Hopper said.
Mona Steen, co-founder of the 1033 organization, said she didn’t know about the campaign until the party and was unaware they would be the recipient again this year.
"I didn’t even know. We got there and we had heard about the contest at the event and we thought it was very cool and fun because so many of the officers were pretty excited that they could grow beards," Steen said. "They had this lovely program and invited the winners of the beard contest to come up. Then they called us up and said, ‘this is for the 1033’ and we were blown away."
About 80 percent of the contributions the 1033 Foundation receives are in small amounts, usually less than $20, Steen said. And most of those come from donors who have a connection to a fallen officer, she said.
"We are a very small organization and we don’t have huge corporate sponsors that provide enough ongoing revenue to keep us going so we are very dependent on these small contributions," Steen said. "To have an organization adopt us and give us checks, that’s just huge for us, not only because of the financial contribution, but the awareness in the community and the support."
Hopper said he eventually wants to take the fundraising opportunity to other departments in outside jurisdictions.
"The biggest thing that stands out for me is giving back to these families," he said. "It just tears you apart to see their family, but to know we can give back to these people a little bit it just makes me feels so much better that we are doing something for them."
A former Summit County victim advocate who was facing a felony count of misusing public money pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge in a deal with prosecutors.