Police donate No Shave money to West Middlesex school food backpack program

From left, Shenango Township police Chief Jason Newton and officers Justin Barnes and Anthony Libonati pack food for the West Middlesex backpack program.

MELISSA KLARIC | Herald

WEST MIDDLESEX – Police in Shenango Township can now shave after a month of growing beards and goatees for charity during “No Shave November.” 

Eleven Shenango Township officers made donations for the privilege of not shaving during November. Proceeds of the program benefit a backpack program for students in West Middlesex School District.

The program, overseen by the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County, provides weekend food for students who depend many days on school lunches for meals. The backpack program helps feed students who might not otherwise have food on the weekends.

“The West Middlesex schools’ backpack program is a real community-wide effort,” said Tracy Mantzell, director of the school district’s parent resource group. 

Shenango Township officers who participate in “No Shave November” choose a charity every year to direct the donations. Police Chief Jason Newton said the officers contributed $330 to the West Middlesex program.

Shenango Township police, who also patrol West Middlesex under a contract between the township and borough, are the latest in a group of community organizations who lend a helping hand to the program.

“Several churches, the Kiwanis club, rotary, teachers and students are all a part of the effort,” Mantzell said. “Our objective is to meet the physical needs of students in the West Middlesex School District.”

Teams of volunteers package the food on Tuesdays. On Fridays at 7:30 a.m., West Middlesex’s Students for Charity group delivers the packs and help teachers slip the food into 44 students’ backpacks.

“We make the program invisible; we keep it confidential,” Mantzell said. “And we don’t ask any questions. Anyone who responds can participate.”

No stigma is attached, especially if a student needs something from the school’s “green store,” which provides non-food items for students.

“The other day an organization donated 60 pairs of shoes and 30 coats,” Mantzell said. “It’s amazing, it just shows up. The community is amazing.”

Follow Melissa Klaric on Twitter and Facebook @HeraldKlaric, email: mklaric@sharonherald.com