In seven years, a once-small event started by a local teacher to provide free haircuts and school supplies to children has grown to a massive event drawing hundreds of people and involving dozens of local organizations and businesses.
Cars lined the block at Glen Robertson Drive and people were packed inside and outside the Willam Griggs Recreation Center on Sunday afternoon for the annual Haircutz 4 Kidz event. Michael Fannin, who started the group Positive Contributions and began the event seven years ago, was amazed at the turnout.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “… I think it doubles every year.”
The first event had about 30 attendees and four barbers. Sunday’s event boasted crowds of people, a teacher dunk tank, concession tents, inflatables, 400 hundred book bags with school supplies and 20 barbers working to cut the hair of children lined up out the doors.
Forty five minutes into the event, 120 of the 400 book bags were left. The remainder were being held for children still waiting to see a barber.
Linda Allen was at the event with her two great nieces, Zaniya Moreland, 8, and Lakiya Alford, 9. Allen said she felt the event was a great way to support the community, “and the kids are having fun.”
Lakiya was among many students who took a turn throwing a ball for a chance to dunk Whitesville Road Elementary School teacher Christine Mobley. Wearing her new, pink backpack, Lakiya managed to hit the target, sending the teacher splashing into the water.
To Fannin’s surprise, crowds had already lined up at noon for the event, which didn’t begin until 1 p.m. However, he was glad to see so many people out to be part of the back-to-school celebration.
A second grade teacher at Callaway Elementary School, Fannin said he’s always had a passion to give, and the event was his way to give back to his community and help out those that he saw in need in his classroom.
The goal of the event is to provide local children in need with backpacks, school supplies and - as the name implies - hair cuts from local barbers. The growth in the event’s attendance also means that it has needed to keep up with growing demand.
“Every year I think I’m prepared, but I’m not,” Fannin said.
However, Fannin said he’s been blessed to have more support each year. More sponsors have signed on to provide haircuts, donate money and supplies, and to volunteer people to help out at the event.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” said volunteer Sequeena Glenn of Positive Contributions.
“And there is more support this year,” added fellow volunteer Jason Towns.
In addition to Positive Contributions, Full-Tilt Riders and West Georgia STAR were the main sponsors of Sunday’s gathering and provided many of the volunteers.
“Basically, if there is a need, we do what we can to help,” said Viedra Sullivan of Full-Tilt Bikers. “… We helped provide school supplies and backpacks, and manned the event. Plus, we bring excitement to the kids when we ride our bikes.”
Chris Cooper, director of operations for West Georgia STAR, said his group also provided book bags, school supplies and volunteers. This is the first year the fledgling group, associated with the LaGrange Housing Authority, has worked with the event. STAR also bussed in children from the housing authority for the event.
“We’re trying to change the way things have been done in the past and move toward the future,” Cooper said about the group’s proactive stance.
One of the barbers cutting hair Sunday, Dave Simpson of Northside Barber Shop, said the business has been contributing to the event for five years. He said it’s a great event for kids and to help some less fortunate.
Fellow Northside barber Lawrence Owens said participating is about doing something positive. He said he feels it’s imperative for those who are in a better position to others to give back.
“It’s always a blessing to be a blessing,” he said with a smile.
Added fellow barber Jarno Huzzie: “I love giving back … Without the community, there would be no barbers.”
Fannin thanked all the sponsors for the event, without whom it would not have happened, he said. They include 2nd Look Sports, Clockwork Training Speed Academy, Daniel Tax Services, Roland Freight Carriers LLC, MajorGlow Entertainment, Beauty Bar Make-up & Salon, Hair Couture & Co., OMG Sportz, Southern Empire, Upskale Salon, Tashara-Total Effects Hair Salon, Distinguished Stylez Salon, Bella’s Hair Studio, TNT Barber Shop, TNT Sports Addition, Superior Cuts, Big Moe’s Northside Barber Shop, Sons of LaGrange Lodge #537, CJ’s Salon and Uneik Cutz.