By Karen Murphy Corr
Usually mothers get the Mother’s Day makeover, but four parishioners at St. James Catholic Church are going to undergo very drastic transformations this Sunday.
What started as a crazy pledge between two friends to shave their heads bald when they turn 50 has grown into an innovative fundraiser dubbed Hair Today – Church Tomorrow.
During the annual pancake breakfast following the 9 a.m. service, Bob Foster and Adam Christiaanse will have their heads shaved, the pastor Father George Varghese Edattukaran will get a buzz cut and Emma Sawatzky, 10, is going to cut 30 inches off her beautiful long locks. Each hopes to raise $1,000 for the parish building fund and collect donations for the new Canuck Place Hospice being built in Abbotsford.
“We have a huge mortgage,” explains Father George, whose parish has 252 registered families. “The construction of a church has been a big challenge, but we’ve started building now. The wonderful, wonderful people of St. James really come forward.”
Foster and Christiaanse have been growing their hair for a few years in anticipation of going for the crome-dome look when they reached a half century.
“Then we thought, if we’re going to do it we may as well make it dramatic and fun,” explains Foster, who laughs that their wives and children describe them as a cross between Krusty the Clown, Art Garfunkel and a Chia Pet.
Christiaanse, who has previously kept his hair short, is good natured as he recounts the way many people laugh when they see the bushy hair styles and he and Foster sport. However, he has been surprised by the negative reactions from some people – even abusive when people yell expletives and insults from passing cars.
“It’s interesting how people react to long hair on men. Some people laugh but some people really don’t like it,” he says. “Until they find out it is for charity and then it is okay.”
Young Emma Sawatzky decided to join the fundraiser, offering to chop her calf-length hair to a bob for donations. She had already been considering cutting her hair to donate to Locks of Love, a charity that makes wigs for children with cancer.
“We thought, why not do this for two good causes?” she explains, saying she can’t wait to bob her hair to help other children and her church.
Parishioners at St. James cannot wait for the big event, the Facebook page is growing in popularity and donations are picking up. Everyone is welcome to join them at the event or send donations to the church office.