By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
---- — LAPEL — Mardi Gras Pizza and Pub in Lapel was packed with armed services veterans and locals Saturday, but they weren't there for a game or party. They were there to watch a haircut.
Stan Rockhold, a United States Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War, has been telling people for a few years he'd cut his long hair for a good cause. Someone suggested Toys for Tots, the toy collection program run by the USMC reserve.
Rockhold said if $500 was donated to the charity he'd cut his hair that's been growing for 10 years.
Kurtis Wilson, a fellow Marine, heard about the challenge and decided he wanted to do it. So he and Kali Baugh together managed to raise $500 for Toys for Tots.
That meant on Saturday it was time for Rockhold to pay up. He also donated his 12-inch ponytail to Locks of Love after Wilson cut it off with a pair of scissors.
"It got cold in here," Rockhold joked as the clippers began the trip up his head. "Somebody left the door open."
Rockhold said he got his first military cut in 1965 when he joined the Marines, and he left the service in 1971. Since then he's always kept his hair long. That was until today when he went back to the military-style cut. He also got his beard trimmed.
He said he didn't think one person would donate the $500 for Toys for Tots, but he didn't regret cutting his hair.
"I grew it out because I felt like it," he said. "It'll grow back."
He was proud that a fellow Marine raised the money to help a charity many veterans care strongly about.
"It's a great feeling," Rockhold said. "We're brothers. It's a brotherhood."
Ronald Meister, himself a USMC veteran, also was in Lapel to watch the haircut. He is in charge of the Marine Corps League members in Madison County and the local Toys for Tots program.
"We want to raise awareness about the Toys for Tots campaign," Meister said. "The requests are great in this county. Last year, we handled 1,300 requests."
Each of those 1,300 children usually gets two or three new toys for Christmas.
The $500 will automatically become $1,000 because Toys 'R Us doubles all the funds Toys for Tots raises.
Meister said anyone else interested in donating to Toys for Tots should go to toysfortots.org to find the nearest drop-off location. The toys must be new and unwrapped.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call him at 640-4847.
To donate Visit toysfortots.org to find a drop-off location near you. Toys must be new and unwrapped.