TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Keaton Anderson is humble — even when his idea for a fundraiser nets more than $50,000 for Alabama public schools.
“I can’t take the credit for it, because there were so many other people who were involved,” the former Alabama defensive back said. “I don’t know if my platform in Alabama was too much to do with it. Maybe some of my teammates that joined in. Some of those guys that are still playing.”
Anderson and a friend decided to grow goatees while stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. When their buddies started to join the party, the group grew rapidly — so Anderson saw an opportunity to do some good.
He called Jeff Hurn, the executive director of S.D. Allen Ministries, a mission in Tuscaloosa whose main objective is to provide beds for those who need a place to sleep. When Anderson was a master’s student at UA, he took Hurn’s class on fundraising for charity.
“I’ve always seen Keaton as a peer,” Hurn said. “Even though he’s younger than me, he’s so mature. And so adamant about productive things — doing good things in the community.”
So when Anderson called Hurn, it provided the Ministries — which stopped delivering furniture during the pandemic — with a chance to give back in a different way. Hurn and Anderson reached out to the school districts of Tuscaloosa County and Florence, the area in which they both grew up.
“Once we had the two yeses from both school systems, it was time to get the ball rolling,” Anderson said. “Let me say: this is all in the span of about two days. So this happened zero to 100.”
The “Quarantine Goatee” group included some of Anderson’s former teammates, including current New England Patriots running back Damien Harris. Within a few days, they had created a logo, social media pages, t-shirts, and a fundraising machine that ultimately donated a total of $51,600 to Tuscaloosa County and Florence schools.
“I definitely can’t thank both communities enough for supporting us for something that was just fun to do during quarantine,” Anderson said. “Kind of ran into something that was able to help people struggling. It was a great response from both communities and we were really able to spread a positive message.”