How a haircut happy hour turned into a fundraiser for Code.org

Daily life was disrupted in an instant when states around the country began locking down and limiting outings in response to COVID-19. No more visits to restaurants, gyms, tanning salons or nail parlors — and especially not barber shops or hair salons.

As the lockdown in many parts of the country turned from weeks to months, a cybersecurity team at a marketing and advertising firm based in New York City began to miss something that was once so common: a haircut.

“The team started wishing they could get a haircut, and we were trying to find creative ways to keep up the team morale due to the overall anxiety and uncertain times,” said Megan Soriano, a global security portfolio manager at Interpublic Group.

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Together, they made a pact at a virtual happy hour in March. They pledged that if the lockdown wasn’t over by April 30, they’d shave their heads or get mohawks live on camera! The pact quickly turned into a fundraiser for Code.org, with team members pledging to do certain things based on the amount of money raised. At $300, Jim Klein, Security Operations Analyst, said he would shave off his long silver locks, while Chris White, Director of Global Cyber Security Operations, promised to dye his hair any color the highest bidder requested.

They settled on an initial fundraising goal of $500.

“I’ve always wanted a ‘Skrillex’-style undercut, but was afraid to do it,” Soriano said. “I figured if I did it for a good cause, I wouldn’t feel so bad!”

The team spent April posting about their new fundraising campaign on social media, encouraging friends, family members and other coworkers to donate. As an added bonus, anyone who donated would receive a link to a virtual happy hour on May 1, where the team would broadcast their shaves and cuts live.

As they spread the word about the campaign, money came pouring in. The team blew past their fundraising goal, and ultimately raised an incredible $1,331!

As May 1 rolled around, it was time for the main event. The team gathered on a video chat joined by 30–40 live viewers, and commenced the cutting.

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Team was joined by family, friends and colleagues from around the country who had donated and then tuned in to watch the action!

With everyone online and ready to watch, all five team members followed through with their commitments.

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Megan followed through and got her “Skrillex” cut!

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As promised, Jim said bye-bye to his long hair.

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Chris sporting his new punk-rock cut.

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PH rocking a sky-high mohawk.

“It was entertaining and we had so much fun,” Megan said afterward, sporting her new do. “I’m happy to contribute to anything that made people forget their anxieties for a little bit.”

Code.org is a nonprofit supported by donors just like you! If you’d like to set up your own fundraiser (mohawks, optional!) or send a one-time donation, see our donation page here.

You can also create a Code.org fundraiser on Facebook or support Code.org every time you shop on Amazon by using AmazonSmile.

-David Bernier, Director of Partnerships and Development

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Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.

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