It's not exactly a "Duck Dynasty" thing but Ceres police officers will be putting away their razors during the holiday season to grow beards to draw attention to the needs of underprivileged children in the Ceres community.
It's all part of the Ceres Police Beards for Kids toy drive that kicks off Friday and goes until Dec. 23.
Traffic Officer Jason Coley pitched the idea to Ceres police command staff on behalf of the patrol officers who encounter impoverished children every day.
"We want to bring joy to these kids and families who might otherwise not have the opportunity to have a Merry Christmas," said Coley.
Ceres police will be partnering with the City of Ceres Recreation Division and Ceres Employee Activities Committee to collect donated toys at various locations in the community. They are also challenging local businesses to pledge donations for each officer donning a beard, a challenge that the Ceres Walmart has already accepted as they plan to donate three toys per bearded police officer.
Police are inviting the public to contribute unwrapped new toys for boys and girls aged from infants to 18. Toys may be dropped off at several locations, including the Ceres Police Department lobby, 2727 Third Street; City Hall at 2720 Second Street; the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street; or at Dollar General in the Richland Shopping Center, corner of Whitmore Avenue and Moffet Road.
The toys will be distributed on Dec. 23 by Santa Claus and officers to families who've been identified by the city as needy.
Coley said the beard-growing effort is a unique way to bring awareness to the community where children comprise 32.2 percent of the population. The per capita annual income is just $17,688, and 18 percent of Ceres residents are living below the poverty level according to the most recent U.S. Census data.
"We just want the public to know when they see scruffy officers why we're doing this," said Officer Jason Coley who is spearheading the collection effort.
Anyone with information about a family that may need some assistance or know some children in need is encouraged to contact Officer Jason Coley by calling 538-5678 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.