ST. GEORGE — As part of an initiative to help local youth in need, free haircuts were recently given by professional stylists at Sunset Elementary School.
The initiative benefited low-income students, especially those classified as homeless, to help families who are struggling financially. The service was a collaboration coordinated by Washington County School District’s Homeless Liaison Brian Gunnell under the Student Services Department, Sunset Elementary counselor Jana Timmons and the nonprofit organization Reach Out Today.
“Everyone seemed super excited and happy to be there,” Reach Out Today Director Kerry Owen told St. George News. “It was great to see all of their smiles.”
Owen said the organization contacted the school district and a couple of local professional hairstylists who were immediately on board.
Over 50 children received haircuts. In addition to elementary students, some of their siblings of preschool age or younger also received haircuts.
“I feel like it’s our responsibility to help where help’s needed,” Owen said.
The haircut recipients all were smiling by the time the stylists finished. They received bags of essential grooming items such as shampoo, combs, brushes, toothbrushes and toothpaste. And as a sweet bonus, recipients also received candy and other goodies.
While the students and their families waited their turn, Disney movies played on the pull-down screen in the auditorium and board games and books were available to pass the time.
Reach Out Today is a nonprofit organization based out of Sandy dedicated to “filling in the gaps and cracks of what is needed within the community for vulnerable children and at-risk youth,” Owen said.
They provide a wide range of services to help Utah’s children, from food drives to more unique service opportunities such as haircuts. The organization is 100% volunteer-operated and has recently organized a committee in St. George.
This haircut initiative was personal to Owen, she said, as her father grew up without good hygiene practices and children bullied him.
“I am really appreciative of the hairdressers for their commitment today, and we look forward to doing some more in the future,” she added.
The hairstylists who volunteered their time included Rochelle Nyberg, owner of E’lan Hair Salon, and stylists from Aquae Sulis Salon and Spa, which included Ashton Pearson, KelCee Yoho and Cyndi Murphy.
Gunnell had nothing but praise for Owen and the Reach Out Today organization. He said Owen was “a very impressive New Zealander who truly had a big heart,” adding that he appreciated her efforts in helping out the youth in Washington County schools.
Sunset Elementary School Principal Julie Smith said she was very grateful to the community members who stepped in to help and show their love for the youth in her school.
Owen said she and Gunnell have been planning other haircut expeditions to schools within the district.
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