COLUMBUS, Ga.- More than 100 kids are not only going back to school with free haircuts, but they are also getting tools that are necessary to be successful in life.
Gerald Riley believes a barbershop’s responsibility goes further than a haircut.
The President of Columbus Barbers United says as a barber, it’s his responsibility to pour knowledge into the youth.
Riley said, “Because the young ones are the future and we have the unique ability in that 10 to 15 minutes to inspire and mentor the youth of today.”
Shannon Buckner is a member of Barbers United and he says barbers develop special bonds with their clients.
“We deal with a lot of kids on the day to day basis and there are a lot of kids who don’t have father figures. For a lot of the barbers we have become father figures and we’ve found that coming together as an organization allows us to do more as opposed to trying to do things on our own,” said Buckner.
Riley says haircuts give students confidence when they go back to school.
Riley said, “When you look good you perform better in school and when you perform better you make better grades and better choices.”
Five local barber shops have united with one goal putting the kids in the community first.
15 year old Jessica Hall is part of Overflo Ministries Youth Mentorship Program and she’s training to become a barber.
Hall said, “It feels good to know that somebody is there for you and they care for you and they actually want to help you out in life.”
Buckner says unifying the different barber shops in the area meant business putting their pride to the side and looking at the bigger picture.
“I’m not saying it’s been an easy thing, but it has been a great thing because your asking people that run their own businesses that we’re asking you to put all that aside to become part of a full organization,” said Buckner.
The kids also received free school supplies and lunch before the first day of school.