It’s halfway through November, and if you’re a guy participating in this month’s annual facial hair-growing tradition, that means two weeks until your next shave.
For a long time, this sans-shave month was purposeless and without any particular meaning or online presence. It was just a fun thing for college kids to do.
But for the Hill family, from the Chicago suburbs, the November grooming fad became much more significant.
In November 2007, the eight Hill siblings lost their father to an 18-month battle with colon cancer. As Rebecca, the oldest, and a friend contemplated ways to raise money for cancer research, they decided to give the facial hair fest some meaning.
The family launched No Shave November, an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for cancer, and built off a reality many cancer patients face — hair loss following chemotherapy treatment.
The basic premise of donations is this: Instead of dishing over money for fancy razors, shaving cream or expensive salon treatments, No Shave November asks you to donate to the American Cancer Society.
And while monthly grooming funds may not add up to much, “it was a way people who really couldn’t give a lot could still give something to the cause,” said Christine Hill.
Similar organizations, like the moustache-centric “Movember,” exist on the web today, but No Shave November is unique in that it supports the full beard, and encourages both men and women to participate (with donations, if not necessarily beard growth).
In 2009, No Shave November started with 50 Facebook followers — mainly family and friends.
Now, the group has more than 32,000 Facebook followers and has helped to raise well over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. In this year alone, they've raised $90,000.
November is by far the Hill family's busiest time, but during the other 11 months of the year, the siblings, who are between the ages of 14 and 30, maintain the website, manage social media and communications, and discuss new ideas to help growth.
So, how does one family, busy with day jobs and classes, find the time and resources to keep the organization’s momentum going?
Throughout the past four years, all of the siblings have jumped on board to help in different ways. “[We] all have different disciplines that we use together as a team to accomplish what we are doing right now,” said Christine.
Christine, who works in marketing and design in a Northwest suburb of Chicago, tends to take lead on the No Shave November’s social media, while her brother Andrew, a senior at Marquette University, says he takes every chance he can to inform other students of the significance behind their November beards.
They'll be the first to admit the work, school, and No Shave November balance is difficult, but as Christine said, “We’re a family, so we’re a very strong network and support system for each other and we work as a team collaboratively.”
What's next for the Hill siblings?
“The sky is the limit,” Christine said. Their slogan, after all, is “let it grow.”
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