In a month’s time, Kenna White had raised $2,540 for Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry through the Hairless for the Homeless fundraiser.
All she had to do to keep her hair was raise $1,000, so she was easily safe from the razor.
By the time the fundraiser ended Friday evening, her total jumped to $8,660.
That made her the top fundraiser of the 12 candidates. Even better, she helped set a record with $36,650 raised.
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The first one in 2001 raised $30,000, while the $24,458.60 raised last year was the second-largest in history.
"Any time I do anything, I try to be the best at it, but in this case, I just feel it’s important, and it drove me even harder to know what it went for," White said.
Anchor House offers an emergency homeless shelter for families with children and a food pantry for the community. So far this year, 117 Jackson County residents have been helped through their homelessness journey, and 5,569 families have been served by the food pantry, providing 153,468 meals, said Executive Director Megan Cherry.
"I don’t fundraise all of the time, but I just think that we ought to give back," White said. "I’ve been blessed. God has blessed me this year with good work, so I’ve got to give back."
The candidates started fundraising Sept. 1, and it ran through Thursday. White said she chose the tried-and-true method.
"I asked friends. I went to businesses that I go to a lot and asked for donations," she said. "Once I explained what Anchor House was if they didn’t know, I had people open their wallet and hand me $100. You’ve got to beat the path to get it, but it was worth it."
Coming in second was Eddie Murphy. He set a personal goal of raising $5,000 and topped that by bringing in $6,100.
The remaining participants and their totals were Cody Schryer, $3,336; Karen Battin, $3,251; Matt Nicholson, $3,085; Chandra Campbell, $2,146; Kaylee Heilman, $2,026; Andy Rumph, $2,160; Autumn Welch, $2,032; Steve Deweese, $2,000; and Amy Hiester, $1,470.
Going into Friday, Hiester was the only one who hadn’t raised at least $1,000. The six women was the most in the history of the fundraiser.
Anchor House board member Bob Tabeling was the bounty and agreed to have his head shaved if the candidates reached their goal. On Friday, he sent a hat around the crowd gathered in front of the Kenny Glass Stage on the south side of the Seymour Oktoberfest grounds and collected $434, which was added to the total.
Cherry thanked the candidates and donors and also the hairstylists and people who attended Friday’s event. She also had a former Anchor House resident share her story.
"We couldn’t do all of that work without the support of the whole community and everybody getting involved in awesome events like this, so we really appreciate it," Cherry said.
Even though they met their goal, Schryer, Nicholson and Deweese had their heads shaved, and Campbell had a portion of her hair cut.
Schryer and Campbell donated some of their hair to the nonprofit organization Children with Hair Loss, which was created as a resource for children who have medically related hair loss.
"A friend of ours is a hairstylist, and they’ve made donations through them before," Schryer said. "They are true, fully nonprofit, and she had brought that up, and I was like, ‘That’s a great idea.’"
Campbell said she learned of the organization through stylists at The Buzz Hair Design Studio, who handled the head shaving and hair cutting Friday.
Schryer said the last time his head was shaved was about a dozen years ago in high school when he and his swimming teammates went bald for the sectional.
Before Friday’s head shaving, his hair went just past his shoulder blades. He said it took a little less than two years to grow that long.
"I used to grow it out, and then I would shave it off, but I would have a little more hair than what I have now," Schryer said.
He doesn’t mind being bald, though, because he helped the group set a fundraising record.
"Fantastic," he said. "I think it’s a great idea. It’s a really cool way to raise money, so I think it’s a great. It’s fantastic."
Campbell also was happy to contribute to the cause.
"I think Anchor House obviously is a great organization to donate to, and any time you can help out kids in need, you might as well. Why wouldn’t you? It’s an ‘If not me, then who?’ kind of thing," she said. "I was really lucky to be with a great group of people who did this, and I’m glad we pulled it off."
Nicholson upped the stakes by agreeing to also have his beard shaved if he hit $2,000.
"Honestly, with the $1,000 safe zone, my mind went, ‘We’ve got to do more than that’ because in my mind, everybody’s going, ‘I’m not going to donate because I don’t want him to make it to $1,000,’" he said, smiling. "OK, great. We get $2,000, you can have it all. That was my approach."
After running his hand over his freshly shaven head and face, Nicholson said it felt different.
"I don’t keep my hair super long anymore, so it’s not horrible, but it’s just a little different than normal," he said.
"I bought a hat. I think I’ll walk around most of the night doing this," he said while rubbing his head. "It’s all good. It grows back."
He was excited to be a part of setting a fundraising record.
"It’s for a great cause," Nicholson said. "I volunteer with my dad over there. It’s worth it. You get in there, you see it and you realize that it’s a good group."
Deweese also put more than his hair on the line. He shaved his facial hair after topping $2,000, and through a side contest, someone won a private concert with him and Zach Thompson.
"I’ve got mixed emotions," he said, smiling. "I’m thankful that extra money is going to supply some less-fortunate people with what they need. I also am going to request the names and addresses of those who pushed me over the limit so we can have a talk. But in all seriousness, it means the world to me that everybody came out and donated for a record-breaking year. You can’t beat that."
He encourages others to help the community when they can.
"Anything you can do to help a town our size, to me, you have to do it," Deweese said. "The towns that run into big problems are the ones that nobody thought had a problem until it was too late. Getting in on the ground floor and being able to help at a grassroots level with charities like this is really important to me."
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Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry is at 250 S. Vine St., Seymour.
Staffed shelter hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday.
The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday. Clients must provide identification, and they can visit twice in a 30-day time period.
Clothing vouchers are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday while supply lasts.
Intakes are done from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For information, call 812-522-9308 or visit anchorhouseshelter.org or facebook.com/ahfamilyassistancecenter.