Many mustaches, one cause: Chief Willard mugs for Beards for Bucks to raise awareness for kids in crisis

Police Officers go razor-less for a reason during October fundraiser to benefit Child Advocacy Centers throughout New Hampshire.

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MANCHESTER, NH – A few weeks before the official Beards for Bucks promo went public, Police Chief Nick Willard got an exclusive sneak preview of his first official mugshot session.

“You look fantastic, by the way,” says Joy Barrett to Willard, just before the big reveal. Barrett is Executive Director of Granite State Children’s Alliance, and was pivotal in coordinating the many bearded faces of Chief Willard photo shoot, which resulted in the 30-second public service announcement.

“You hear that, Carlo?” Willard shouts loud enough to be heard in the office across the hall, where his second in command and friendly foil, Assistant Chief Carlo Capano, is doing his best to remain disinterested in Willard’s brush with a Hollywood make-up crew. “She says I look fantastic!”

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From left, Lt. Nicole Ledoux, Chief Nick Willard, and Joy Barrett, review the first cut of the Beards for Bucks PSA. Photo/Carol Robidoux

And then Willard, Barrett and Lt. Nicole Ledoux huddle together to view the video, featuring Willard with a dozen different looks – from a fu manchu mustache to “the Big Papi” look. Ledoux, who works in the juvenile crimes unit, spearheaded the fundraising Beards for Bucks campaign two years ago, and remains the Manchester Police Department’s top fundraiser – without even growing a beard.

“His beard doesn’t look anything like that,” says Ledoux, critiquing Willard’s dark brown Hollywood facial hair. “His is completely gray.”

There are some guidelines – despite the many wild and crazy beards Willard models in the PSA, officers who participate have to keep their facial hair groomed, says Ledoux. Top fund-raising cop earns a coveted “Chief’s Day Off,” which is a day off with pay.

The promotional video is scheduled to air for a month starting Oct. 1 across the state, directing viewers to log on to  and click through to find their local police department. The names of all 162 participating Manchester Police Officers can be found there via a drop-down menu. The initiative started in 2015 in Manchester, and has grown to include 49 New Hampshire police departments. 

Ledoux hoped to raise $5,000 in 2015. Beards for Bucks brought in $23,000. In 2016, they raised $36,000. This year, they’re shooting for $40,000.

The initiative is also about raising awareness while educating the public about the critical role Child Advocacy Centers play in helping child victims of abuse – every day, several times a day, child victims are thrust into crisis through no fault of their own. On average, 2,200 children across New Hampshire are victims of sexual or physical abuse annually.  

“We work everyday, hand in hand, as partners with these officers advocating on behalf of child victims,” says Barrett. “Beards For Bucks is really about community engagement, creating a compelling way to help focus attention to a cause that affects us all – and raises the critical funds necessary to keep our centers serving the children of our Granite State.” 

The  PSA starring Willard was created pro bono for the campaign by filmmaker Terrence F. Hayes, writers David McHugh and Rick McHugh, editor Kael Randall and producers Steve Oare and Peter Connors, which you can view below:

Many of those involved in producing the video have a heart for children in crisis, whether it’s through their advocacy work or personal experience. When asked, Connors spoke briefly about why he took on this passion project.

He was a child victim of abuse.

“I didn’t have the benefit of a Child Advocacy Center, so I had to tell one person after another, after another, after another, about what happened to me,” says Connors, his voice full of emotion.

When he learned about the work of the Child Advocacy Centers, he wanted to get involved and lend his support “for the silent souls they’re helping heal.”

“I care about this work so much because I know for every child that we convince to find the courage to report their abuse, there are literally nine who have not found their voice yet,” says Connors. “This work is to give voice to the nine, the overwhelming majority of children who suffer in silence.”

Click here to donate to the cause.



About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!