Cops and Barbers help families prepare for back to school

A collaboration of a local barbershop and Greenville, North Carolina police made it possible for 150 kids to walk into classes on Monday with new haircuts and school supplies.

The annual Cops and Barbers Back to School event held at Kampus Kutz, 2800 E. 10th St., provided families with one more back-to-school staple at no cost.

A lot of our kids’ parents think about clothes and getting things ready for school, but haircuts are the last thing on their list,” said Greenville Police Sgt. Richie Williams, who supervises the Cops and Barbers and Police Athletic League programs.

It’s his sixth year overseeing the event, which was expected to provide haircuts and school supplies to 150-200 children.

A fresh haircut makes a person feel good about themselves, said Tracy Wade, owner of Kampus Kutz. Feeling good about themselves is especially important for children who have endured online learning from home and a hybrid setting that saw them divide time between home and classes.

“After being homeschooled, we’re going back to school and the kids want to look good,” Wade said.

Shakera Wicker brought in her sons Shamar, Johan and Jcion.

“This means a lot. It saves us time and money and is a big help. It feels good to know there are people out here who do this,” Wicker said.

Hotdogs, sodas and juice boxes also were provided along with music.

Traditionally, 10 barber shops participate in the Cops and Barbers Back to School event, Williams said.

But he was concerned about asking barbers with health issues to host a crowded event because of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

However, Wade volunteered to open his shop and bring people in on Saturday, even though that is typically the busiest day of the week for barbers.

Williams, who has also worked as a school resource officer, said Saturday’s event allowed him to reconnect with students that he hasn’t seen in more than a year.

“For some of our new officers who don’t know these kids, they are getting introduced and making relationships as well,” he said.

After a year that saw tensions between law enforcement and minority communities grow in the wake of multiple shootings involving black men, Wade said the Back to School event is a change to bridge the cap in the local community.

“We want little kids to see that you can interact with police officers and police officers are not bad people. (It will show) African American people are not bad people to the police officers,” Wade said.

“Police officers can see these children grow and things can actually be different. You can’t change the world in a day but you have to start somewhere.”

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman greeted families as they entered the barbershop.

“It’s amazing to see the energy and interaction with the officers and the community. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“Cops and Barbers is all about getting out of a police car and getting into a different place and barbershop is really a great place to come and have a good, honest conversation.”

Written By Ginger Livingston

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