White beard gets sheared for charity

BARRY’S BAY – After a month full of Santa Claus parades and visiting with children of all ages, Santa always likes to shave his beard to start the year off fresh.
But for the past two years in a row, Santa has been letting community members help him. All he asks for is a donation to the St. Francis Memorial Hospital Foundation.
On January 8, Santa, known as Charles Belair during the off-season, was at the Opeongo Seniors Centre in Barry’s Bay to get rid of his 10-inch beard.
For a donation, anyone could cut his beard and even take a piece of it home with them as a souvenir. All proceeds went to the local hospital.
“It’s our community hospital,” Belair said. “We are going to need that hospital and I want to be part of it.”
Toni Lavigne-Conway attended the event and thanked him for his support.
“Santa is not only a great hospital supporter, he is a great community supporter,” she said. “Everyone is blessed with a gift… He is Santa.”
For six years, Belair has been filling the role locally.
“He brings out the kids in all of us,” Lavigne-Conway said.
Read more in the January 15, 2014 issue of The Valley Gazette.