Fresh Cuts and Big Smiles, all for free

5-year-old Kenneth hugs his mom, Renarda Anderson, after getting a complementary haircut.

Gentlemen, start your engines. Lawnmower engines that is! Yes, after what felt like a cold, cold winter (I could’ve sworn that Atmos Energy gave me a hug AND a kiss with my payments) Spring has finally sprung. That means that after our lawns go through this ugly sprouting phase, lawnmower engines will be abuzz very soon on Saturday mornings.

Cutting the grass is like a haircut for the grass, right? But what about haircuts for the kids? West Jackson resident Linda Liddell has that covered.

Today, Ms. Liddell helped to organize free haircuts for the young men at Pecan Park Elementary. Liddell, who is the school’s nominee for JPS’s Parent of the Year, is a regular visitor to Pecan Park and saw that many of the boys were in need of a haircut.

Ms. Liddell grabbed her phone and called up some local barbers to solicit some help for the effort, and Blessed Handz, Hair Doctors II, and James McClinton were there to answer the call.

A total of 35 students showed up for haircuts today, each donning permission slips signed by their parents.  Renarda Anderson watches as her son, Kenneth, 5, receives a haircut from McClinton. When asked her opinion about Pecan Park Elementary, she quickly responded “this is a very good school. They work with your kids and they break down things for them if they don’t understand.” When asked about her involvement with the school, she smiled and said “every time they [Pecan Park] have something, I’m coming!

Kenneth hops out of the chair with a fresh haircut and dashes towards his mom. They say their goodbyes and another young man hops into McClinton’s chair. McClinton, who lives in West Jackson, has a daughter and a niece who attend Pecan Park. His son, who has moved on to the IB Program at Siwell Middle School, was also a student here as well.  McClinton works full time in the Highway Maintenance Department of the Mississippi Department of Transportation and took a day of personal leave from work to help with the effort.

Jimmy Black, of Hair Doctors II diligently trims the hair of one of the 4th grade students.  When asked about his thoughts on the project, he emphatically responded, “this is our way of giving back.”

The barbers’ hands never rest during my time here. The school boys file into the room by grade and file out of the room with smooth haircuts and sharp hairlines.  One of the boys approaches Daryl “Big D” Courtney’s chair for his cut. Big D, owner of Blessed Handz, hold out his hand for a handshake. The little boy timidly rests his little hand into Big D’s large palm. “Squeeze my hand,” Big D instructs, and the little boy applies pressure. “Now, THAT’S a handshake.” A quick lesson in manhood, a simple handshake, is swiftly taught by Big D and learned by the boy.

Big D started Blessed Handz 3 years ago; but he was inspired to start the shop seven years before. So he enrolled in Barber School, “and every day, I said ‘Lord, bless my hands.’ So when I finished and started my shop, I called it Blessed Handz.”

Ms. Liddell and Big D hope that other barbershops around the city will routinely give back in such a way. Or, as Big D puts it “South Jackson barbers can help the South Jackson schools, North Jackson barbers can help the North Jackson schools” and so on.

In the meantime, the barbers who showed up today are hoping to make their rounds to other West Jackson schools throughout the year.

One thing is for sure, the generosity of all involved helped the little boys of Pecan Park Elementary to leave out of that room looking like young men.


Blessed Handz is located at 1335 Ellis Avenue, Suite 5, near Flowers by Max (across from Huttos).

Hair Doctors II is located at 4585 Highway 18, just before the I-20 overpass.

3 Comments on Fresh Cuts and Big Smiles, all for free

  1. LaShondra Upkins // February 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm // Reply

    What an awesome story! It captures the true essence & spirit of a community!

  2. Rose Collins // February 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm // Reply

    What an extraordinary story! This shows that people in our community still care!

  3. Wow! I love the story and the pictures. As principal of Pecan Park, I truly appreciate Ms. Liddell and her dedication to our school. She is a wonderful and involved grandparent. To the caring men who not only gave our boys a fresh cut, but also showed them the true meaning of giving back – I applaud you for your generosity.

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