Indie Acts of Kindness: Local Barber Trades Story Time for Haircuts

Indie Acts of Kindness: Local Barber Trades Story Time for Haircuts

Courtney Holmes, a barber in Dubuque, Iowa, is making the start of the school year a little easier for local kids and parents. In honor of back-to-school season, Holmes has offered free kids’ haircuts, as long as the kids read a book to him while he works. Now, “Tales 4 Trims” has become a regular program at his local shop.

Holmes rents a chair at Spark Family Hair Salon, a locally owned shop in the heart of Dubuque. He is also a member of the Dubuque Black Men Coalition (DBMC), a group of local residents that works to improve the lives of African-American youth in the community. In organizing its annual Back-to-School Bash, the DBMC asked Holmes about the opportunity to provide free haircuts for kids in exchange for reading. Holmes eagerly jumped on board, providing nearly 15 free haircuts throughout the event. The group also partnered with Every Child, Every Promise, another local organization that works to support local youth, to provide books at several different reading levels.

"At the end of the haircut, I'd ask them, 'What's the book about?' I made sure they read the cover of the book before they started, so they would know what they were reading — and afterward I'd make them answer questions and tell me about what they'd read," Holmes told NBC’s Today Show.

The free haircut campaign created such an impact that Spark Salon will continue the program, offering free kids’ haircuts from all of its stylists on the first Tuesday of every month. The salon has set up a crowdfunding account to accept donations in support of Holmes and his #BarberReadingChallenge. In less than two weeks, the salon had raised almost $1500 online. According to the crowdfunding page, the donations will go toward off-setting costs and providing new books for the children to read.

Holmes has said that his own two sons have inspired his desire to give back to Dubuque’s youth. To donate to the campaign, visit Spark Salon’s GoFundMe page.

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