STERLING, Ill. (Dec. 6, 2023) – Dr. Christopher McNeil from Kansas City, MO, is a former elementary school principal who started his program 'Books and Barbers' to provide haircuts, books, and mentorship to elementary school students within the Kansas City Public School District. His charity, the Kansas City Public School Foundation, supports educational initiatives and impact programs like 'Books and Barbers' that encourage innovation and support student enrichment. As the winner of the Wahl ‘Benevolent Beards’ Contest, McNeil gets $20,000 for himself, and $5,000 for his charity. He’ll also be crowned the new ‘Wahl Man of the Year,’ a moniker that boasts a bearded brotherhood spanning 16 years, when Wahl celebrates him at the following local events:
- Beard Grooming for a Good Cause: On Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. (CST), Wahl’s Mobile Barbershop will be parked at the Westport Christmas Market. Don’t worry if your beard can’t compete with Santa’s, all whiskers are welcome to visit the barbershop, and for every FREE beard trim Wahl will donate $100 to support McNeil’s charity up to $5,000. Also, in support of the charity there will be a Book Drive at the children’s tent.
- Students Meet Football Stars: On Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (CST), the following KC Football Stars will surprise about 200 elementary school students at the Manual Career and Technical Center by delivering the Book Drive donations, and presenting the Grand Prize check to McNeil:
According to McNeil, who is currently the Director of Career and Technical Education at Kansas City Public Schools, 'Books and Barbers' is about more than just free haircuts. “We try to recreate what’s special about barbershops by offering students a safe space where they can learn about life and glean wisdom from amazing mentors. It’s also a way for us to increase the kids’ love of learning and literacy,” he explained.
McNeil says he’s proud to be among the following runners-up who all combined good grooming with goodwill in their own unique ways:
- Yuri Williams from Los Angeles, CA, started his charity A Future Superhero after his mother passed away from cancer. His work with disabled and seriously ill children is a tribute to the positive impact his mother had on his life. His efforts include traveling to all 50 states and organizing events like toy drives, backpack giveaways, and personalized visits — all dressed as different superheroes.
- James Gottry from Colorado Springs, CO, has been supporting UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix, AZ, for decades. His connection to the charity stems from his late father who served as the organization’s chief operating officer for more than 20 years. The purpose of UMOM is to target the cycle of homelessness by providing shelter and housing, as well as job and skills training.
- Shawn Standley from Talkeetna, AK, is a professional artist who supports his charity, Denali Arts Council, as treasurer. The organization helps the entire community, but especially kids, in the rural Alaskan village explore opportunities for artistic expression, something they often lack in school due to low funding for art programs.
- Ben Davis from Dallas, TX, founded Operation Gentleman, a charity that supports three primary causes: collecting suits and business attire for donation to the Fort Cavazos Soldier Recovery Unit, providing monthly pop-up barbershop services to the homeless population in Dallas, and feeding veterans in need.
About the Wahl ‘Benevolent Beards’ Contest
The Wahl ‘Benevolent Beards’ Contest started in April with a quest to discover guys who are making the world a ‘bearder’ place to live. The goal was to reward bearded men who are doing good through charitable efforts. Men from across the country submitted a video of themselves either explaining or demonstrating how they support a charity. What kind of charity? As long as it was a 501(c)(3) organization with a goal to impact the world positively, all charities were considered. Five fuzzy-faced finalists were chosen, and America’s votes decided the winner.
About Wahl Grooming
Celebrating its 104th anniversary, Wahl continues to help men look and feel their best with innovative products manufactured to define and elevate the men’s grooming category. The company set the standard with the first-ever practical electric hair clipper in 1919, and later strengthened its leadership with the world’s first battery-powered facial hair trimmer. It’s this continued commitment to excellence that has solidified Wahl’s place as the world’s go-to brand for men’s grooming solutions. For more information, visit WahlUSA.com.
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