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story.lead_photo.caption Barber Mike Hutchins gives Xavion Toliver, 7, a trim at Fly Societe Barbershop in Little Rock during Wednesday’s haircut event for boys from the Our House shelter. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

A bunch of boys looked better Wednesday, ready for school, after barbers and barber college students gave them free haircuts. Hot dogs and kettle corn sweetened the deal.

Photo by Staton Breidenthal
Jamarion Cawley (center), 11, plays a tabletop pool game with brothers LaMarcus Proctor (left), 9, and Jayden Allen, 7, on Wednesday afternoon while waiting for haircuts at Fly Societe Barbershop in Little Rock.

As for the Big Munchie ... more on that later.

The boys were members of Our Club, an after-school program for young people at Our House. The latter is off Roosevelt Road and helps homeless people and the near homeless find work and become independent.

Businesses at 801 S. Chester St. that pitched in Wednesday were The Shops @ Station 801, Fly Societe Barbershop, Keith Fulks of Mr. Keith's Hand Popped Kettle Corn, and the hardworking folks in Demetrius Weston's food truck.

Barbers were from Good Fellas Barber College and the Arkansas College of Barbering.

Michael Hutchins, whose Fly Societe Barbershop is at the back of the building, was hard at the barbering, too.

"I've been wanting to do this for years now," Hutchins said, "to show these kids somebody out there still cares."

Hutchins cared enough previously to mentor boys at Our House, he said, teaching them about appearance and respect, how to knot a tie and check the oil in a car, "basic tools that boys need to know." Hutchins credited his sense of duty to others to a former boss "who showed me it's better to have a lending hand than to put out a hand to receive."

A total of 16 boys got their hair cut, Our House's Nick Harrington said.

Scott Hamilton, who owns the renovated gas station where the businesses are housed, said the barber students had an opportunity to practice their craft, and the boys had a need to look sharp.

"For black kids, hair is such an important part of their self-image and self-confidence," he said. "Now they can go back to school in the best way possible, prepared to succeed."

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Hamilton said he asks his tenants to "do something good for somebody." A nice haircut, he said, "is a great way to start school."

The boys ranged from small to teens, one of whom was Perry Johnson, 13, and all of 5 feet 11 inches tall. He's an eighth-grader at Horace Mann Middle School and hopes to attend Parkview High School next year. Perry said he was in the leadership program at Our Club.

He was in the company of Trey Young, also 13, who attends North Little Rock Middle School. Trey, who has a fine head of hair, wasn't looking for a full haircut as much as a taper fade, a trim on the edges. His wish was granted.

Our Club is a good thing, Trey said, what with snacks and a homework lab. "They care about the kids and want them to get a good education and succeed," he said.

Corbin Huffstutter, a youth program specialist at Our House, said Our Club takes in children who live at the shelter along with children from the neighborhood. The group averages 70-80 youths from kindergarten to 12th grade. The young people aren't the only ones who benefit, Huffstutter said.

"What keeps me going every single day is the smiles on their faces," he said.

Morgan Benton, who also works at Our House, said the boys "demonstrated leadership and trustworthiness, all the things we try to instill in Our Club."

Back to Demetrius Weston, a huge man crammed inside his food truck with two other workers and a small boy sitting on a bucket. "He collects the money," Weston joked.

Weston's claim to culinary fame is the Big Munchie. It's 1 pound of hamburger with steak on top. The Big Munchie costs $13 and is serious food. Its caloric count is unknown, Weston said.

"If you come here to get a Big Munchie, don't expect to lose weight."

Metro on 12/29/2016

Print Headline: Our Club boys get a trim and treat

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