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Shave For The Kids: How One Man’s Beard Helped Save Christmas

For more than 15 years, Justin McCarthy has been dedicated to serving underprivileged communities in Boise. Through “Christmas Trees for Families,” he helped dozens of families every year by providing them with a Christmas tree, presents, and anything else they might need to make their holiday season merry and bright. So, when the demand for trees began to dwindle over time, Justin and his real estate brokerage company, NextStep Real Estate Advisors, were eager to find a new way to make a difference.


Image of Justin McCarthy's beard after he shaved "I 'heart' TS" into it.
Justin McCarthy’s new beard is both stylish and functional after Tropical Smoothie Cafe shaved it to read “I heart TS.”

One of NextStep’s agents, Amy Burns, began asking the local community for suggestions on which charities could use their help. She interviewed several organizations to see which one would be the right fit and happened to stumble across Fostering Christmas. Justin McCarthy said their interview with our organizer, Karli Lee, was key in their decision to offer us their support. “Karli Lee’s joy and passion were absolutely infectious,” he stated. “You could tell how much she cared about helping these kids.”


Justin also stated that few people were aware of the deadlines for other gift-giving programs like “Angel Tree.” “When I spoke with people,” he said, “not a single person said they knew about this.” That’s why NextStep Real Estate Advisors was eager to spread the word about Fostering Christmas and encourage more people to help support local foster children who do not qualify for other programs.


For Justin, exposure was essential. “When I came up with ‘Shave for the Kids,’ it was because I knew I could get some of my buddies to help raise some more money,” Justin stated. “I thought, let’s offer up my face as a way to get my friends together in some way.” Offer up his face he did, as Justin allowed the highest donor to shave or design his beard into whatever they’d like, with all proceeds being donated to Fostering Christmas.


But “Shave for the Kids'' would not have been such a massive success if it weren’t for the social media campaign that preceded it. “I just started going out and buying gift cards. I said, ‘Let’s do a social media drive with daily giveaways.’’' Justin explained, “The real value of ‘Shave for the Kids’ was awareness. We leverage time and our network — and use the funds to help others.”


The resulting outpouring of support was amazing as people became aware of Fostering Christmas and our mission through Justin’s beard. The drive ended with the folks at Tropical Smoothie Cafe earning the coveted right to shave Justin’s beard, which they cleverly designed to read “I heart TS.”


In 2021, Fostering Christmas was able to fulfill our largest number of wish lists ever, with over 300 children receiving presents on Christmas morning. We could not have achieved such a feat without the support from businesses like NextStep Real Estate Advisors and exposure from people like Justin. We are incredibly grateful for their partnership and are looking forward to working with them in the future.


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