Sunday, January 26, 2003

Good News: Beard contest turning Graybar to Graybeard

Growing a beard can be a hassle. Sometimes they itch, get shabby -and the gray you didn't know about shows up.

But the 18 guys at the Graybar Electric Co., Queensgate, are having a beard-growing contest - and a lot of fun.

The contest, which runs through Feb. 21, raises money for the Graybar Family Foundation.

The contestants started clean-shaven on Dec. 31. At the end of the contest, the female employees at the company will vote for the best beard.

"There will be a runner-up winner for the best attempt," said Paul Queen, manager of customer service.

The contest is open to all male employees. Mr. Queen is in the contest and says that he is among those who have a full beard now.

"Some of them are struggling. There is a lot of teasing going on now," he said. "Guys walk by each other's desk and call each other `scruffies.' ''

Mr. Queen said they hope to raise $1,000 for the foundation. So far, $400 has been collected.

Each contestant pays $10 to enter the contest. He said some employees who didn't enter chipped in $10 anyway.

Bonnie Sampson, a customer service representative, said the contestants "scratch and complain a lot, but I am amazed at how good-looking some of them are."

She said the women decided to promote a dress-down Friday, where anyone wearing jeans would make a $3 contribution to the foundation. They also started a potluck lunch to collect money.

"Us girls felt a little slighted. We felt we had to do something," Ms. Sampson said.

The year-old Graybar Foundation helps families of employees who face difficult times.

"We also have fund-raisers for public charities," Mr. Queen said.

Graybar, an electrical wholesale and communication distribution company, was founded in New York City in 1869 by Elisha Gray and Enos Barton. The company has spread to 260 offices nationwide.

Graybar began in Cincinnati in 1888 in Over-the-Rhine. It moved to Queensgate in 1967.

Saks Fifth Avenue and its employees have donated $26,772 to the Barrett Cancer Center as part of the store's Fashion Targets Breast Cancer National Campaign

The store donated 2 percent of sales during a weekend last year.

Eileen Barrett, the 2002 event chair, accepted the check from Saks Wednesday.

Allen Howard's "Some Good News" column runs Sunday-Friday. If you have suggestions about outstanding achievements, or people who are uplifting to the Tristate, let him know at 768-8362, at or by fax at 768-8340.

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