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Mike Fenton is just as attached to his beard as the impressive shock of facial hair is to the local attorney's face.

After all, if that beard was a child, Fenton at this point would be making plans to send it to college.

Instead, he's trying to adjust to the idea of a clean(-shaven) break.

"I love my beard. ... I don't want to shave my beard. I've had a beard since I was 20," Fenton said. "But I opened Pandora's box, and I have to stick to my word."

He's been growing this particular beard for 17 years, although it's not the first ZZ Top-like chin mane that's graced his face.

Fenton said the only reason he agreed to sever that long-standing relationship is because it would raise at least $5,000 for charity.

"It's a good cause — a worthy cause," he said.

Legal aid: If the York County Bar Association can raise $5,000 for its civil legal-aid endowment fund, Fenton said he will submit to a barber's razor.

"It's a terrific cause," said Victoria Connor, the bar association's chief executive officer.

The fund provides free legal services to York County residents involved in non-criminal court issues, including family-law cases, civil cases and eviction cases, she said.

The endowment also funds a truancy-prevention initiative and tries to help substance abusers turn their lives around so they don't re-offend.

"It's helping the poor access justice," Connor said. "In York County, over 50,000 people qualify for civil legal aid. It's a critical need. It's estimated only one in five people who need civil legal aid actually get it."

Lise Levin, the county bar association's development director, broached the idea recently when she met Fenton at a local function.

"When I saw that beard I said, 'Did anyone ever ask you if you'd be willing to shave it?'" Levin recalled. "I couldn't help myself — it's just that kind of beard."

No hesitation: Fenton didn't hesitate, she said, and agreed to the idea if it raised $5,000 for the legal-aid fund.

"He was a really great sport about it," Levin said.

The bar association's website has a "shave it or save it" page where people can donate online.

As of Thursday afternoon, the "shave it" fund had raised $1,170, while the "save it" fund had raised just $50.

"No one wants to save Mike's beard," Connor said.

Donations will be accepted through April 24, she said, including at York Little Theatre's performances Thursday through Saturday by a group of thespian attorneys known the Bar Stools.

"Mike's beard will be making cameo performance in each Bar Stools skit," Connor promised.

For the grandkids: Assuming the goal is reached, Fenton will have his beard shaved April 27 at DiDi & Smiling John's Barber Shop and Salon on South Duke Street in York City, according to Connor.

"I asked for a professional shave, and that (the beard) be braided so I can save it," Fenton said.

"I'm going to put it in a nice box and put it in the attic. Save it for my grandchildren. Or if I'm missing, it can be used for DNA."

Fenton is clinging to the hope he can raise money for the endowment and still keep his trademark whiskers, which don't quite reach his navel.

"I'm telling all my associates and friends to vote to keep it," he said, adding a friend has reached out to ZZ Top to see if the Texas rock band known for its members' facial hair might intervene on the beard's behalf.

Fenton has not yet broken the news to his spouse, Deb Fenton.

"It's going to make my wife very happy," he predicted.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.

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