Beards For Books!

MAY OUR BEARDS GROW LONGER & OUR LITTLEST LEARNERS READ STRONGER!


MEET OUR CHAMPIONS! - Use the tabs to navigate between our participants!

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Bruce Walters

Bruce Walters!

Goal: $5,000! 

Support Bruce By Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door.

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Troy Bell

Troy Bell!

Goal: $500

Support Troy by Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door. Uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities!

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Gary Nelund

Gary Nelund!

Goal: $5,000

Support Gary By Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door.

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Bryan

Bryan Lambert

Goal: $2,500

Support Bryan by Clicking Here!

This year I’m putting my beard on the line to support our young readers. Our little reader loves recieving her book every month and my goal is to raise enough money to put books in the hands of 100 local kids every month for a year.

Please help us support this amazing program and promote reading and family bonding in our community.

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DJ Hilson

DJ Hilson

Goal: $5,000

Support DJ by Clicking Here!

Want to join me in supporting a good cause? I'm raising money for United Way of the Lakeshore and it's efforts to put free books into the hands of our kids. Please help me reach my goal and watch as the beard grows throughout the month of March. Weekly updates will appear on Facebook.

Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the nonprofit.

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Austin Pierce

Austin Pierce

Goal: $500

Support Austin by Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door.

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Jack Russell

Jack Russell

Goal: $2,000

Support Jack by Clicking Here!

Has anyone ever seen me with a beard? Well... watch me grow mine to help more children have access to books for free! We should all care about the next generation and access to books is a good place to start!

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Ryan Bennett

Ryan Bennett

Goal: $2,500

Support Ryan by Clicking Here!

Happy to grow some facial hair to support our young readers. I will be even happier to shave it off at the end of the month. It gets a little whiter every year. Working towards my retirement gig playing mall Santa. I hope you will consider a donation.

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Cory Goodrich

Cory Goodrich!

Goal: $1,250

Support Cory by Clicking Here!

Hey guys, do you want to support a great cause?

I'm raising money for United Way of Lakeshore's Beard for Books challenge. United Way works with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library to ensure children across the country can have access to free books from birth to 5 years old. I am putting my beard on the line, and setting a goal to reach! If I reach my goal, I'll have my beard shaved at the Beards for Books event at Burl & Sprig on March 31st

Donating just $25 will ensure one kid receives a monthly book for a whole year. My goal is $1250, which is enough to ensure 10 kids receive one book a month until they turn five, or enough for 50 kids to recieve a book a month for a year!

Help me support a great cause and donate!

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Jason Finch

Jason Finch!

Goal: $1,000

Support Jason by Clicking Here!

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David Coppock

David Coppock!

Goal: $1,000

Support David by Clicking Here! 

As a father of two young daughters, I believe that Kindergarten is the most formative learning year. Currently in Muskegon, 61% of 3rd graders are NOT reading at there grade level. Please help and donate so that we can make sure each child has the resources and opportunity to succeed.

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Matthew Abel

Matthew Abel!

Goal: $500

Support Matthew by Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read.

From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not.

The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door.

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Robert Ross

Robert Ross!

Goal: $1,000

Support Robert by Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door.

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Joe Zappacosta

Joe Zappacosta!

Goal: $200

Support Joe by Clicking Here!

$100 = 4 kids for one year to receive a book each month! Help me support 8 kids! 

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Don Kalisz

Don Kalisz

Goal: $5,000

Support Don by Clicking Here! 

I’m growing my beard for books and going razor free for the month of March! Donating is fast and easy and 100% of the money goes to United Way to help Muskegon kids! $5 or $500, every little bit helps!

$1,250 in gifts supports 50 kids for one year to each receive one book by mail per month or 10 kids to receive one book per month from birth to 5 years old!

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Walter

Walter Christophersen!

Goal: $1,250

Support Walter by Clicking Here!

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 61% of Muskegon County, 68% of Newaygo County, and 63% of Oceana County 3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door. 

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Andrew Bos

Andrew Bos!

Goal: $500

Support Andrew by Clicking Here!

 

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Ryan

Ryan Speck!

Goal: $500

Support Ryan by Clicking Here!

Friends and family, I am doing something special this year with my beard! For the month of March I will be growing it out to support The Dolly Partons Imagination Library. Want to join me in supporting a good cause?

Why is beards for books so important?

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door!

Big or small, your donation is greatly appreciated! Let’s get books into the hands of children in our community!

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Austin

Austin Zaloga!

Goal: $1,000

Support Austin by Clicking Here!

Now it's more important than ever to support our children receiving a better education through reading and reading comprehension. Michigan public school is currently ranked 37th out of the 50 states in terms of literacy and public-school success. What's even worse is that we are ranked lower than OHIO (come ON)! Please know that we can spark change and ensure the children of our city and state can have a positive outlook on their education for the future. These children deserve these books.

I'll be growing my beard all through March to support this awesome cause, and please donate if you feel inclined to do so! IT'S FOR THE KIDS

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GHSP Hart
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Brad Hilleary
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Nich

Nich Wiener

Goal: $500

Support Nich by Clicking Here!

This fundraiser goes toward Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which directly serves over 6,000 kids in Muskegon county. Your donation will help Muskegon area kids. Each participant in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program (ages birth to 5 years old) receives a new book each month. A $25 donation is the equivalent of sending one child 12 books for the whole year (one for each month)! Any donation amount helps, thanks!

UPDATE: if you donate, please also choose which style I should shave my beard into. The style with the most donations will be the one I choose!

Choices: mustache, handlebar mustache sideburns, goatee

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Donald

Donald Baxter Sr.

Goal: $250

Support Donald by Clicking Here! 

My grandpa doesn't really have a Facebook but when he heard about Beards for Books he wanted to help and put his facial hair on the line too! If he meets his goal for the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library he'll shave his long beard!

When I asked why he wanted to do it, he said he wanted to support Baby Jo for the books she recieves every month and his other great nieces and nephews! Reading at a young age is important! The Dolly program helps develop the love of reading at a young age and only costs $25 per year per child!

Help my Papa reach his goal!

-Dominique Bunker (Granddaughter) 

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Josh Mahan

Josh Mahan - Hart Rotary Club!

Goal: $1,000

Contact Marysue Mahan at the Hart Rotary Club To Support Josh! 

View Photos From These Event By Clicking Here!


 

Thank A Beards For Books Champion! 

 

 


Tools For Our Beards For Books Participants: 

Want some extra materials or talking points check out our toolkit!

In our toolkit you will find stats about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a list of how many children are receiving books in each community, photos, Zoom Backgrounds, videos, talking points, press releases, and articles. You can use as many or as little of these tools as you would like! We just want to make sure you have all of the materials you need to grow your Beard for Books! 

Have any questions or need help? Contact Kara Zielinski at kara@unitedwaylakeshore.org or call (231) 332- 4003. 

Beards for Books Participants

RESULTS OF 2021! Scroll down to join us for 2022!

In 2021, 15 amazing men put their beards to the test! Together, these men raised $35,000 (with our sponsor match) to put towards our Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program. That covered 1,400 of our 6,000 children in the program. AMAZING job by all of our phenomenal participants. 

How it started: 

John Severson, United Way Board Chair & Superintendent at the MAISD came up with a challenge to help support this program. His cabinet challenged him to grow a beard for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and convince others to make a pledge towards the cause. Soon, he, Stuart Jones, and Randy Lindquist began growing beards and surpassed their goal with over $4,000 (that's 2,000 books)!

Help us put books in the hands of our local children by growing a beard & fundraising for the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library! 

  • Grow A Beard. OR Put Your Existing Beard On The Line.

  • Set Up Your Fundraiser.

  • Collect Pledges.

  • Post Photo Updates.

  • Rock A Wicked Cool Beard.

  • Support Kids While Doing It.

The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program serves over 6,000 children in our region. Each month a child receives a book in the mail for them and their parents to read. At $25 a child per year, this program can be very costly but it makes a huge difference in a child's life not only by learning more words but spending quality time with their family.

Jason FinchBeards for Books Challenge Options

"Grow a Beard for Books"

Challenge your family, friends and co-workers to support United Way of the Lakeshore, March National Reading Month and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library by growing a beard from March 1st-31st, 2022. Set your fundraising goal and promote via a Facebook fundraiser for @unitedwaylakeshore. Goal examples: $1,250 in gifts supports 50 kids for one year to each receive one book per month or 10 kids to receive one book per month from birth to 5 years old.

***Can’t grow a “full” beard in 1 month? That's okay! Market “Watch me look scruffy for the month to support kids”. 

"Put Your Beard On The Line"

Challenge your family, friends, and co-workers to support United Way of the Lakeshore, March National Reading Month, and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library by shaving your incredible beard ONLY if your fundraising goal is met by March 31, 2022. Goal examples: $1,250 in gifts supports 50 kids for one year to each receive one book per month or 10 kids to receive one book per month from birth to 5 years old. 

When You Sign Up, You'll Recieve Information On How To Get Started!
Lost that information? Click here to download a PDF version! 

Why is Beards for Books Important?

Kindergarten is a formative learning year. It’s when children learn the skills that will help them adapt and succeed in later years of school. If more kids had the skills and abilities they need to be successful in school when they started kindergarten, they would have a greater opportunity to achieve success in high school and beyond. 65.8% of Muskegon County, 64.8% of Newaygo County, and 78.4% of Oceana County  3rd Graders are NOT reading at grade level according to the MSTEP. From kindergarten to grade 3, children learn how to read. From grade 3 through the rest of an individual’s life, they read to learn. If students are not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, then they will continue to struggle in school and comprehension, falling farther behind. Currently, there is a 30 Million word gap between children who are read to versus those who are not. The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo counties helps our children prepare for kindergarten by delivering books right to their door.

Imagine two five-year-olds are about to race to the edge of the playground. When they line up, one starts 20 feet in front of the other. Who will reach the finish line first? For some kids, this is what it is like to start kindergarten. They start school so far behind their peers; it’s hard to catch up.

All kids are different. Some kids will already be able to cut construction paper in a straight line. Others will still be working on just holding the scissors. Some won’t know the differences between “b” and “d,” and some will have mastered the whole alphabet.  While some difference in capabilities is normal, there are certain literacy, numeracy, social-emotional, physical and linguistic skills and abilities that all kids need to be active participants in kindergarten. Making sure all kids have these baseline skills on day one is about equity. 

Studies show that students who are black, Hispanic, Native American, and from families living below the poverty line are often developmentally and academically behind their peers who are white, Asian, and from affluent families (National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Facts on Knowledge and Skills of Young Children). The gap is not inherent to a child’s cultural, socioeconomic, or geographical background but rather a result of years of economic, housing, cultural, and other policies that have disproportionately hurt people of color and who work low- and middle-skill jobs. These policies have created a gap in opportunities to learn for the children of these families. As stated earlier in this article, our region faces a 30 million word gap for kindergarteners, and up to 68% of our students are not reading at grade level by grade 3. 

United Way of the Lakeshore works with families, early childhood educators, and childcare providers to help all kids entering kindergarten start from the same spot. It is through programs like the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Thanks to United Way of the Lakeshore, this program has been available in Muskegon County since 2015, and Oceana County in 2017.  

These books are making a huge impact on how parents are able to read with their children in our community. Survey results show that there was a 90% increase in parents reading more with their children once they enrolled in the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, 70% reported reading daily. 88% of our parents reported that they feel the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has helped prepare their child for Kindergarten & 90% of parents reported that the program has helped them as a parent.

Muskegon

"It’s always a great day when a book arrives in the mail. Nathan now likes to find his name on the address and then feels good knowing it’s just for him. We sit down and read it right away." - Shonda, Reeths Puffer

"My kids are excited then they get books in the mail and can’t wait for bedtime so we can read them together. We save the new books for bedtime and then also read them throughout the following weeks. I love the one-on-one time we get and how excited they are about books. I love reading and hope to pass this on to my children as well." - Jennifer, Whitehall

"In the beginning of the pandemic, I spent part of my job trying to keep families and children in our community engaged virtually, and encouraging caregivers to read with their children. Through the Read Early Read Often programs FB page, my son and I chose books to share with others virtually. The one he sat the best for, listened to wonderfully, and loved was one from DPL; Max and the Tag Along Moon by Floyd Cooper. When he gets "too old" for a book, he knows and encourages me/his mom to pass along his books to other kids in our community. This program has helped me work with my son on kindness and giving which I hope he carries with him for the rest of his life." - Jennifer, Reeths Puffer

Newaygo

"All three of our girls have been in the program and all three of them love books and stories. Our oldest reads for hours, our middle taught herself to read before preschool, and our youngest loves to listen to anyone read and looks at books on her own." - Kendra, Hesperia

"My oldest says almost every day "has my book come yet?" It's like a mystery book every month. We predict/wonder/wish what book will be next month." - Kayla, Newaygo

Oceana

"Thank you for all you do! My son Lukas graduated from your program 2 years ago. He is doing great in school and loves to read!" - Marrianne, Hart

"Our family lived overseas since before any of our kids were born. Books have always been a big deal... they weighed a lot to bring with us from the States... and they weren’t really available to purchase in the country we had lived in (not English-speaking). Since moving back to the States, it’s been so much fun to be able to get new books more often... and even MORE fun that they come in the mail (we didn’t have mail when we lived overseas either). Our four-year-old wants to check the mail every day to look for his book and gets so excited when it’s there! Thank you!" - Marissa, Hart

91% of children in the program look through books to pretend to read! This is great creative growth for children as they make up stories to go along with the pictures and words!


92% of surveyed parents reported that the Imagination Library through United Way of the Lakeshore helped prepare their child for kindergarten!

"Providing a wide array of books to support his learning of colors, numbers, etc, and expand his imagination beyond the four walls of our house. It has also definitely helped with his pre-reading skills - increasing his vocabulary, and opening his mind to the concept of phonics." - Michael, Muskegon Public

"We work on attention during reading sessions and not interrupting." - Cheryle, Reeths Puffer

"Even if he is not in kindergarten yet it provides books and encourages nightly reading which helps with his vocabulary. He is only one year old and already can say a few words." - Kerri, Mona Shores

"I am a firm believer that the more you read with your child and talk to them the better they will be at communicating and literacy." - Rachel, Mona Shores

"Reading, studying pictures, learning words as he grows! Also learning Spanish, we love the books with both English and Spanish!" - Nicole, Fruitport

"She recognizes letters and pronunciation very well, I’m confident going into Kindergarten!" - Christine, Muskegon Public

"She's a wiz at letters and colors! She is starting to get animals and other things too!" - Doug, Muskegon Heights

"She has an extensive vocabulary and knows her ABCs!" - Jennifer, Orchard View

"They are great at holding a book and turning pages, tracking words, repeating phrases, and retelling. I love the questions in the back of some of the books." - Kaley, Montague


93% of surveyed parents reported that the Imagination Library through United Way of the Lakeshore helped them as a parent! 

"It's motivated me to want to read to them, and made me more aware that I should be!" - Jessica, Catholic Central

"I can relax about providing a diverse set of books for my child.  It helps prevent "mom guilt" in the book area." - Linda, Fremont

"It made us feel closer and we will always have bedtime stories." - Gabrielle, Newaygo

"It has reinforced the importance of reading to us as parents and our child." - Sara, Fruitport

"As soon as we get a book we sit down and read. And then we read again at bedtime. Before getting books in the mail we only read at bedtime." - April, Fruitport

"As I mom, I greatly value having books to offer and read to the kids. Getting a book each month takes a weight off my shoulders trying to think about which books to get... trusting they will be getting good ones in the mail." - Marissa, Hart

"I feel more accomplished knowing my child is getting an education and also having fun at the same time." - Kellie, Holton

"Keeps us accountable and keeps our attention when he wants to read new books." - Liz, Montague

"It has definitely expanded our ideas of what sorts of books Sam would enjoy. It’s given us lots of opportunities to snuggle up together and read new books, and since he loves to memorize them, we get the joy of seeing him fall in love with the books and tell US the stories!" - Michelle, Muskegon Public

"Makes me appreciate the little moments in life and quality time with my babies." - Samantha, Oakridge 

"We can’t afford much, my son loves books and he shares them with his brother and it cost us nothing" - Jennifer, Whitehall