The Washington Township Police Department and the local police union have started their 4th annual Movember fundraiser and already raised over $2,000.
To participate, officers donate $25 and grow out their facial hair, with some rules and guidelines, for the month of November. The officers are also able to “double down” on their donations to $50, and can participate for November and December.
The fundraiser helps raise awarness for men’s health, including prostate and testicular cancer and suicide by men.
“This year, we are helping a local family touched by cancer,” said Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik. “This is what community is all about. Community caretaking and helping others is the bedrock of our mission statement at the police department.”
A professional appearance rule for police means any officer on duty must be clean shaven. That rule will be put on hold for the next two months, while guidelines for Movember include groomed beards trimmed and defined, with no hair below the neckline or above the cheek.
More than 95 percent of the department’s officers are participating in Movember and have opted to participate for both November and December. Female officers will judge facial hair and give out awards for best squad, best mustache and best beard.
“The whole purpose is to change the face of men’s health and raise awareness about men’s health issues,” Gurcsik said of the fundraiser. “Cancer touches all families at some point: Everyone can relate.”
This year’s donations will go to Anthony Passante and his family. Passante was recently diagnosed with Grade 4 glioblastoma and is fighting for his life.
“My brother is going to stay in good spirits and fight as long as he can,” said George Passante, Anthony’s brother. “With the support of our township and the people around us, it shows that we are blessed. It shows he has done things the correct way in his life to be able to get the support that he is getting.”
Last summer, the Passante family put up a lemonade stand and donated money it collected to the police K-9 department. The department is now returning the favor.
“Being members of the town for as long as we have, we have the utmost respect for the police department and the things that they do for our town to keep it safe,” George Passante said.
Anyone interested in donating to the Passante family can do so through the gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/tone-p. A check can also be made out to the PBA 318 and dropped off at the police department, or an arrangement can be made to pick it up.
The department will hold its annual Thanksgiving food drive for local families on Nov. 18 and 19 at Batino’s ShopRite. Officers will be in front of the store both nights with empty boxes to collect food and gift cards. A day or two before Thanksgiving, families are invited into the municipal courtroom to pick up turkey and everything that goes with it, dessert included.