The Awesome Reason This Barber is Giving Away Free Haircuts to Kids

August 13th 2015

Laura Donovan

Courtney Holmes, an Iowa based barber, has asked children to pay for their haircuts by reading books to help them learn and get ready for the new school year.

"I just want to support kids reading," Holmes told the Telegraph Herald.

Over the weekend, Tayshawn Kirby read "Fats, Oils and Sweets" during his haircut and told Holmes during the process that the average person consumes 150 pounds of sugar annually. His older brother also had a chance to get a haircut, in part of Comiskey Park's second annual Back to School Bash. St. Mark Youth Enrichment, an organization that works to educate Iowa youth, contributed to the reading theme by giving away books during the event. The children read some of these books to Holmes during their haircuts. St. Mark's outreach coordinator Beth McGorry said it was great seeing Holmes help kids who struggled sounding out certain words during their reading.

"It's great," said Caitlin Daniels, grade-level reading coordinator with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. "All the kids, they want to have a good haircut to go back to school. They're paying through reading."

Back to School Bash coordinator Anderson Sainci said the goal is to help people who may not have the resources they need to reach their full potential. Sainci added that it's crucial that the children are ready to begin school.

"The idea is to connect people to people and people to resources," Sainci said. "It helps all of us to reach our full potential ... It's important that all kids are prepared and ready to start the school year."

Holmes isn't the first barber to make a statement about the value of reading. Last summer, another barber named Reggie Ross replaced the internet and TV with books in his Florida barbershop.

"The barbershop is based on men coming together, grooming each other to become better men, and I think books and education is a fundamental part of that," Ross told WPTV.

This made an impact on customer Kane Roberts, who was inspired to learn as a result of the move.

"Right now I'm reading about African American inventors, I've never heard of any of these inventors, so I'm learning something," Roberts said. "I come here to read and improve my knowledge, there's just so many books here."

Last year, Palm Beach County's graduation rate for Black males was just 50 percent, and Ross said he wants to see this change.

"I think it helps them with their literacy the speed of reading and comprehension, but I would love to see more graduation and education to reduce the violence and increase the economics of the community," said Reggie Ross.