The Internet has birthed a number of viral charity causes like the Ice Bucket Challenge that raised $115 million for The ALS Association and the No Makeup Selfie that raised more than 8 million pounds for Cancer Research UK.

Ryan Bertolino has an idea for one to raise money for The USO, the national charity that provides comfort, connection, and entertainment for military servicemen and women and their families around the world.

All you have to do to participate is to get a haircut or, more specifically, a buzz cut.

“It seems right now, most of us have a pair of electric clippers at home that they can buzz their head with,” Bertolino says who took the first step of sheering his locks for his cause. “I’m not asking them to shave their head and get a razor. I had a two or three-guard on it.”

Bertolino is the president and CEO of Event Mechanics Co., a Plano-based event organizing and planning business. He came up with the idea for his Buzz Cut Force initiative when Event Mechanics Co. went on hiatus for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ryan Bertolino

“I want to do something better with my time to give back,” he says. “I have a family member who works with The USO. I put this together to raise awareness as well as to hopefully raise some money for The USO.”

The initiative works just like the Ice Bucket Challenge where one person gives themselves a clean cut buzz cut on camera and posts the video on their social media and YouTube channel with the hashtag #buzzcutforce. They nominate three other people and can either encourage people to make a donation to the USO through its web donation portal or make a donation instead of shearing their locks.

“I’ve got a complete list of people who’ve been nominated through friends who knew about it and wanted to be a part of it,” Bertolino says. “They too are going to buzz their head, throw it up on social media and hashtag our Instagram.”

Bertolino says it’s an ideal time to start the Buzz Cut Force challenge since barbers and beauty shops are closed for awhile and the summer is around the corner. Even GQ recently featured that buzz cuts are now trending. He also thinks it’s a fitting way to raise awareness about the needs of military personnel and their families.

“It ties right into the military,” Bertolino says. “They have to buzz their heads when they go through boot camp and keep it short.”

It could also provide a laugh to people who need something to lift their spirits at work.

“How funny would it be to catch your boss buzzing his head?” Bertolino says. “It would really lift company morale to see people doing something to help.”

Bertolino says he wants to do something generous and help others make a difference while they’re stuck at home even if they don’t have money to spare in this trying time.

“This scenario right now is tough and me buzzing my head is preparing for this war with coronavirus,” he says. “I’m going to do everything I can to fight for my family and for my business that I own. I’m not gonna sit around and do nothing. I’m going to fight and my effort is to raise money and awareness for the military.”

Danny Gallagher is a writer based in Dallas. His stories and features have appeared in and on CNET, Cracked, MTV Online, Mandatory.com, Retro Gamer, Esquire and The Dallas Observer.

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