A Not-So-Stiff Upper Lip

By Celia Gittelson,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Mustaches for Kids raises funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering’s pediatric patients in a most hairy way.

Chances are you’re either a mustache lover or a mustache hater. Like dog people and cat people, we tend to fall into one camp or another. But Mustaches for Kids will inspire you to either become a lover or adore them even more.

Raising Funds — and Hairs

Mustaches for Kids is a volunteer-run organization that started in Los Angeles in 1999 to raise money for children’s charities by growing mustaches. Since its beginning, the charity has grown steadily — rather like the humble hairy accessory itself — and now has nearly 50 chapters across the United States.

The Long Island chapter of Mustaches, born in 2007 in Long Beach, has raised more than $390,000 for the family assistance fund for Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Department of Pediatrics. The fund offers aid to families to help them cover certain nonmedical expenses they face when a child is undergoing treatment for cancer.

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A Time to Grow

October is the yearly “Growing Season,” during which “Growers,” as they’re called, cultivate their masterpieces. There are certain rules of the road, or the face: Mustaches for Kids bylaws state that participants must shave their faces — save for the mustache — at least once a week and solicit donations from friends, family, co-workers, and people in their communities. Throughout the month, the Long Island chapter also holds a series of fund-raisers and events, and Growers wear buttons that say “Ask me about my mustache” as a way to engage as many people as possible in their fund-raising efforts.

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The ’Stache Bash

At the end of Growing Season, each Mustaches chapter hosts a Mustache Competition, also known as a ’Stache Bash. Growers and non-Growers alike show up in mustache-inspired costumes and Growers are put through a test of mind, body, and mustache. Their facial hair is evaluated by an independent panel of judges; one mustache is declared the “Sweetest.”

Members of the Long Island Mustaches for Kids chapter also pay an annual visit to MSK’s Department of Pediatrics to spend time with patients and their families and introduce them to all sorts of mustache-themed games and activities. It’s enough to make you love mustaches — and the gentlemen who grow them!

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