Tai-Sun Schoeman, principal at El Dorado Elementary School, wanted to help his teachers buy supplies that the Visitacion Valley school’s budget couldn’t cover. So he grew a mustache.
“I am blessed with prodigious facial hair, so it grew in fairly quickly,” the hirsute Schoeman said.
He is one of dozens of men — fathers, principals and teachers — across The City who grew mustaches over five weeks this November and December to raise money for public schools. Mimicking a charity walk, they found sponsors for their whiskers through the website DonorsChoose.org.
Mustaches for Kids, which started in Los Angeles in 1999, has been an annual ritual in The City for a decade, but it has taken off in recent years as school budgets are slashed and teachers struggle to afford materials as basic as paper and pencils.
“Our teachers are really resorting to DonorsChoose,” said Schoeman, whose mustache netted about $2,000 for items such as copier paper, P.E. equipment and storybooks.
Jason Sterling, whose children attend Peabody Elementary School, raised more than $1,000. He grew his first mustache last year, when there were six participants at the school. This year there were 16.
“It’s kind of the No. 1 event for dads at our school,” he said.
Ed Korenman, the father of twin first-graders at Peabody, said the schedule was easier for working dads than most fundraisers.
“I’m not able to volunteer as much as I’d like, but this is something I can do,” said Korenman, whose mustache raised $3,000 for Peabody.
But although the payoff might be great, growing a mustache can be uncomfortable — and awkward.
“You get on the bus, go anywhere out in public, and you can see people looking at you, thinking, ‘Does he really think that looks good?’” Sterling said.
“It’s itchy,” Korenman said. “It looks ridiculous on me.”
Despite his mustache’s success, Korenman planned to shave after Mustaches for Kids’ celebratory ’Stache Bash this month.
“My wife doesn’t like it,” he said. “It needs to come off.”
Sterling said his wife was not a fan either.
“She probably suffered more than me,” he said. “She’s always saying, ‘We’ll forever have the mustache in our Christmas photos.’”
San Francisco schools reaped the benefits of men’s facial hair choices for charity.
60: Charity mustaches in 2011
890: Cash donors
$62,000: Money raised for schools this year
$300,000: Money raised since 2008
Source: Mustaches for Kids