PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

PEPPERELL — Every year, in the middle of March, thousands of people across the country take part in a now time-honored tradition.

They shave their heads. Or, to be more exact, volunteer barbers and haircutters shear the locks of men, women and children.

The “shavees,” as they are known in the St. Baldrick’s world, raise money to help fund research to battle childhood cancer.

Pepperell’s first St. Baldrick’s event happened back in 2003, said organizer Vinnie Messina. In the past 12 years, the local event has raised over $197,000 and shaved 459 heads.

Some heads have been shaved more than once. Messina has offered his locks since the event began in town. “I figured, no big deal, it will grow back,” he said.

This year, Daniel King will have his head shaved for the eighth year in a row. The Townsend resident has been doing the fundraiser since first grade.

John King, his father, will hit the nine-year mark for participation this year.

“We don’t raise the most money but what if it is the money that we raise that sends some great new doctor to school that discovers a new treatment and saves some lives?” said the Lowell public school teacher.

“We don’t have a lot of money but we have lots of friends.When we all pool our money, it adds up.”

A shavee must raise $25 to get shaved, and $50 to receive a T-shirt, Messina said.

Head-shaving is just one way to participate in the Pepperell endeavor. During the shaving event, they will hold a huge raffle with prizes from area businesses.

Four tickets to a New England Revolution Game and a New England Patriots football signed by Tom Brady will be on the auction block.

Local businesses will provide light refreshments and food for the shavers, shavees and supporters.

St. Baldrick’s Day takes place Wednesday, March 18, starting at 6 p.m. at the Park Street fire station at 38 Park St.

Information on the St. Baldrick’s Day Foundation can be found at www.stbaldricks.org. Information about the Pepperell event can be found by typing “Pepperell” in the search box.