2 years, many Merb'ys and over $500K raised for charity

The merry male mermaids presented a cheque for $202,193, raised through sales of their calendar, to Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador.

The group raised over $200K for Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador

Big donation from a large company? Nope! All that money was raised by a group of male mermaids in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Ritche Perez/Submitted)

The buttons on the calculator belonging to the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Mustache Club's accountant are probably still smoking.

Over the past 36 hours, he'd been tallying up the sales of the Merb'ys 2019 calendar and all the costs associated in order to arrive at the final amount, announced Saturday afternoon, which the club was able to donate to Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador

The final tally: a whopping $202,193, made from the sales of over 12,000 calendars.

"Until this morning only like five or six people knew the amount. It was pretty wild," said the Merb'ys founder Hasan Hai, laughing. "Today's been a phenomenal day."

Hasan Hai is the founder of the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club. (Ritche Perez/Submitted)

The room exploded in applause as the figure was revealed at a special gathering at the Alt Hotel in downtown St. John's.

This was the second year the Merb'ys put together a calendar featuring their members — mostly big, burly, bearded men — in sparkles and mermaid tails, posed land-lubbingly in scenic spots all across the province.

The Merb'ys are all about showing different representations of masculinity. (Submitted by the Merby's)

Last year, the sales of the calendar raised over $300,000 for Spirit Horse NL.

"In two years, two Merb'y calendars, that's over half a million dollars. It's pretty nuts," Hai said.

"We were really hoping we would break that $200,000 threshold. Psychologically, if it has been, like, $197,000, we probably would have like done a pool and been like, hey let's throw in a bit of money to make it $200,000," he added, laughing.

Choosing from over 40 applications

Hai told the crowd at the Alt Hotel that the Merb'ys were looking for an organization whose goals that mirrored their own: promoting diversity and healthy representations of masculinity.

They got about 40 applications for organizations across the province. Choosing one, Hai said, was painful — "like trying to pick your favourite kid."

Val Barter, front and left, is the executive director of Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador. Hasan Hai, front and right, is the founder of the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club and the Merb'ys. (Ritche Perez/Submitted)

The application from Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador was for a project called Deconstructing Masculinity, aimed engaging men directly with violence prevention, and he and his selection team just kept coming back to it.

"It connected with us right away," he said.

Val Barter, the executive director of Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador, was clearly overcome as she accepted the cheque.

"We work on a very small budget," she said. "Without you guys, we would never be able to do this project."

A Merb'y swam into the Newfoundland Insectarium in Deer Lake for the 2019 calendar. (Submitted by the Merb'ys)

"When I was first elected, I knew I would get to meet many interesting people. But I never, ever dreamed I would get a chance to meet a Merb'y," said Carol Anne Haley, the province's minister responsible for the status of women.

"I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I saw that we are fortunate to have such kind and caring men in our community."

Part of the fabric of the province

Last year's calendar and club got exposure across the world, and that stardom helped beef up the sales and final donation, Hai said.

This year's calendar sales and final tally, though smaller, was still massive, and it showed Hai something he's particularly proud of.

"It's becoming part of the fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.

"Considering — and this is not a competition — looking at what a big charitable donation within Newfoundland and Labrador is typically, this is on par with energy giants making donations. And we're just a bunch of people doing this thing."

Merb'ys were on hand at the Alt Hotel in St. John's for Saturday's cheque presentation. (Ritche Perez/Submitted)

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