About 75 police officers from across Eastern Massachusetts gathered in Boston Wednesday to bid farewell to their beards, a ceremonial “shave-off” for charity.
The effort raised more than $50,000 for Home Base, a Boston Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program “dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for Post-9/11 veterans.”
The idea started last year when a Transit Police officer, Kurt Power, an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, decided he wanted to give back to the program that helped him reintegrate into society after serving in combat.
“This is just a small token of my appreciation — to not only get police officers around the Commonwealth together for the greater good, but to get them together for an organization that helped me and my family,” Power said in a telephone interview after the event.
About 500 officers across 20 police departments donated at least $100 for the right to skirt customary police restrictions on facial hair and grow their beards throughout November.
Last year, about 150 Transit Police officers raised $15,000, said Bill Davidson, director of outreach and peer support at Home Base. This year, more than 500 officers raised more than $50,000.
“All this money goes to programs to help for [veterans’] care,” Davidson said. “What Home Base tries to do is remove any barrier to care, or excuses to go seek treatment.”
The campaign, called “No Shave November,” helps veterans attend treatment programs by providing transportation or defraying the costs of gas and parking.
It also pays to fly in veterans from across the country to receive therapy.
Power said the charitable campaign boosts police morale because it becomes a competition — who can grow the best beard in 30 days?
On that front, Power said the event was satisfying for more than one reason.
“I probably had the worst beard,” Power said. “It was great to give back and it was great for [police] morale, but I couldn’t be happier to shave.”Dylan McGuinness can be reached at dylan.mcguinness
@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DylMcGuinness.