To raise money for a new animal shelter, last year Robert Yuchniuk, animal control officer for Waterford/East Lyme, had his hair dyed pink at fundraising cut-a-thon at a local salon.
The event was so successful that Officer Yuchniuk volunteered to do the same again at a cut-a-thon held on June 10 at A Cut Above salon in Waterford. This year’s fundraiser was organized by A Cut Above stylist Demi Gravell, who was motivated to act after seeing the sorry state of the animal shelter facility earlier this year.
“I adopted my dog, Emma, in February and I saw the conditions of the shelter and thought, ‘We can do better!” Gravell said.
Yuchniuk was hoping his hair would be dyed a color the Police Department could endorse this year, a nice brown perhaps, but he admitted going in that he thought there was little chance of that.
“He’s going blue, he just doesn’t know it!” said his wife, Melissa, with a camera at the ready to capture the moment.
An auction had been held to determine which color his hair would be this year but the person who had the winning $100 bid decided to leave the final decision up to Melissa Yuchniuk.
“I think she thought she’d be doing him a favor that way,” said Melissa with a grin. “Obviously, she doesn’t know me very well!”
For this year's fundraiser, Gravell really went the extra mile, visiting about 20 businesses and asking customers for donations of goods and services that could be raffled off. The response was impressive. Mystic Silver and Company, Maui Sun Tanning, The Hope Chest thrift shop, Ivy’s Simply Homemade, Crown Pizza, and The Shack were among the many businesses that offered gift certificates.
The Mohegan Sun donated a basketful of basketball items, the new Great Neck Golf Course offered a free round of golf for a foursome and a half-hour lesson with the pro, Mallove’s jewelry donated Red Sox and Yankees bracelets, the Animal Shelter had gift baskets for dogs and cats, Gretchen Buckley was donating profits from sales of Lia Sophia Bling, and Northern Rhode Island Paranormal and Historical Research/Investigations was offering autographed books about haunted New England.
Of course, the biggest fundraiser was the cut-a-thon itself. Salon owner Paula Peltier and seven stylists all volunteered to come in on their day off to cut hair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. With prices at $20 a head, they did a brisk trade. By noon, they’d done about 35 haircuts and there were still plenty of people in the waiting room. The stylists donated all the proceeds plus their tips to the animal shelter.
“It’s an extra day for us but we all kind of pitched in,” said Peltier, whose 15-year-old daughter Carley and her friend Holly Leal, 17, were also selling homemade cupcakes for the cause. (The two teens have their own business, H.C. Buttercream, so they’re pretty good at baking for the masses.)
The, um, highlight of the event, however, was Yuchniuk’s makeover.
“Would you like a little gel?” Gravell asked as he admired his new do in the mirror.
“Sure, why not!” he said with a grin. It’s all for a good cause, after all.
At the end of the day, the event raised just over $2,000, which put the total amount raised to pay for construction of a new animal shelter in Waterford up over $80,000. All of that has come from private donations and fundraisers such as the cut-a-thon held this past Sunday.