#BetterTogether: Free haircuts for kids headed back to school

By Jessi Mitchell for CBS New York, Published September 6, 2023

NEW YORK — Kids are getting ready for back-to-school this week, many with a fresh cut.

Here at CBS New York we believe we are #BetterTogether, so we’re teaming up with Big Russ Barber Shop in Harlem, Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE, and New York Common Pantry to offer back-to-school haircuts and supplies for Harlem families. 

It’s part of our commitment to community through our CBS New York #BetterTogether campaign. 

Read More: #BetterTogether: CBS New York teams up with Big Russ Barber Shop to send kids back to school with fresh haircuts in Harlem

It has been a busy two days getting kids fresh cuts, and it has been beautiful to see Harlem families get ready for back-to-school.

“It’s amazing. I’m so excited to go to school to see my friends,” said fifth grader Jah-Akel Mitchell.

The grins grew as a select few young men got groomed for the first day of class.

Our #BetterTogether community partner the New York Common Pantry connected their clients with the greatest need to Big Russ’s barbers in training.

“Back-to-school time is an exciting time, but it’s also an expensive time, so clothes, haircuts, supplies. Being able to invite some of our pantry families down to get those things at no cost is a real boost to them,” said Deana Murtha, with the New York Common Pantry.

“It is a blessing because I didn’t know it existed,” mom Tavia Brown said.

Our parent company Paramount also provided products featuring all the favorite Nickelodeon characters.

The Anderson family found fun among the fundamentals.

“She got some books and a costume, so that was a huge surprise, so we thank you very much and we’re very grateful for you guys coming out and doing this for the neighborhood,” dad Edward Anderson said.

A neighbor even brought us extra backpacks and supplemented our supplies.

CBS2 president Johnny Green and news director Sarah Burke stopped by to learn more about the impact this training program has through its partnership with Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE. The nonprofit aims to stop another violent end to these precious lives.

“We’re teaching most of these guys here a trade to move on in life with, to learn how to make money, to keep them away from the gun violence, and at the same time, we try to deal with the community to give back,” Big Russ said.

Khabir Ahmad learned the trade from Big Russ and now styles stars on Broadway when he’s not training students here.

“That’s what we’re here to do, each one teach one. Somebody had to help me. Big Russ gave me a chance when I was working at the shop, so I gotta do the same thing and help everybody else,” Ahmad said.

The power of community shines through conversations and cuts.