Three hours into giving free haircuts, nonstop, on a Sunday afternoon too gorgeous to be stuck indoors, Richard Dickerson set down his clippers for a breather.
He arched his shoulders way back. “Ah,” Dickerson groaned. “My back is killing me.”
But he wouldn’t think of being anywhere else than in the Lincoln Building in the 18th and Vine district, site of the Fresh Cut, Fresh Start back-to-school challenge.
“Once I was one of these kids,” said Dickerson, who owns Stadium Cuts in Independence. “I’d need a haircut, and my mom couldn’t afford to get me one.”
He volunteered with a dozen other local barbers, their chairs full all day, to help 230 kids look sharp for their return to the classroom. Some families waited in line two hours to take a seat.
It was the idea of Joey Thomas, proprietor of JoeyCuts in Kansas City, to rally the community each summer for purposes more important than just seeing that boys sport a straight hairline trim.
The Know Joey? Foundation, sponsor of the sixth annual challenge, handed out more than 200 book bags as well, in hopes of lifting children’s confidence and sense of duty to do well this coming school year.
“I tell people my inspiration came from God,” Thomas said, “but the motivation comes from the community — the people who step up to make it possible.”
A half-dozen volunteers known as the “Ladies of Limitless” spent the morning arranging the donated book bags by appropriate grade level and gender. Rubies Inc., a nonprofit that seeks to help girls reach college, set up an arts-and-crafts booth.
Another crew grilled 700 free hot dogs. And Quintin Randle (aka DJQ) spun hip-hop from his control panel in the corner of the 180V Barber/Salon.
“We’ve got 12 barber stations in there, and they’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ nonstop,” said LaDonna Adams of the Know Joey? Foundation.
Outside, Shaleese Clark said, “Turn around, Jason,” while inspecting her freshly shorn son. He rolled his eyes and rotated his shoulders.
“You look good, Jason,” chirped Clark, who usually pays $10 to trim up the 9-year-old. “This is really nice of Joey to do. Hey, Jason, you’re ready for school, aren’t you?”
Jason rolled his eyes again.