It all started back in January 2009 when Justin Unton, one of our creative and innovative team members in Technology, proposed—quite literally—a hair-raising idea: beard growing.
The idea came from an article he had read online about “recession beards”—a gesture of solidarity for the countless folks across the country who lost their jobs due to the economy’s swift nosedive in late 2008. But, of course, putting a Commonwealth spin on things, Justin also came up with the idea to have our in-house efforts go to a good cause. Thus, the Charity Recession Beard Contest was born.
As Paula O’Shaughnessy noted at our annual companywide meeting a couple of weeks ago, giving back really is a collective effort. Every single one of our 35+ initiatives each year is employee led—and most of these ideas come at their suggestion, too.
With 17 participants that first year, each one committed to growing (and maintaining a well-groomed) beard until tax time, our men raised $4,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now an annual tradition, Commonwealth’s band of beard-growers has raised more than $45,000 since 2009—all of which has gone toward granting the wishes of children who are living with a life-threatening illness.
This week marks the start of what’s now known as the Super Macho Tough Man Charity Beard Competition. Now in its sixth year, and with 23 men participating between our two offices, the team is excited to put their efforts to a good cause.
As if that weren’t enough of a reason to participate, we also dole out some lighthearted award certificates to our participants at the end of the competition, ranging from “He’s a Lumberjack and He’s Okay” to “It Must Be Hockey Play-Off Time” to the always good-spirited “It’s the Thought that Counts.”
How’s that for warm and fuzzy?