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St. Paul Barber Gives Free Back-To-School Haircuts

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –Many people have Labor Day off, but one St. Paul man is spending the entire day on his feet, working for free.

He's the owner of a barber shop, and he wants kids who are headed back to school Tuesday to get off to a good start.

So on Monday he and his staff are giving free haircuts students until closing time.

Milan Dennie is the owner of King Milan's Barber Shop on University Avenue, just east of Dale Street.

"That can be a big bill when you are trying to send them back and have them look fresh for school," Dennie said.

The barbershop opened last December, but by the looks of the place today, you'd think otherwise.

"I don't just cut hair; I talk to these kids," Dennie said. "I ask them what they're doing in school and everything."

He opened his first barbershop in his hometown of Gary, Indiana, 10 years ago.

There he witnessed how a well-groomed look can boost a kid's self-esteem and create a more optimistic outlook about returning to class.

"You feel alive, like you're ready to go, ready to do something positive," he said. "I know it makes me feel that way."

Dennie has been cutting hair since he was 11 years old, freshening up the look of his older brother.

"That's really how I started learning how to cut hair, because my mom couldn't afford to really take us," he said. "She had a family of three. She had to get us ready and we were low-income and everything."

Milan is now 32 and able to offer his young clients advice.

"A lot of kids don't have fathers in the household, so they are looking for a male figure to be a role model, other than what we see on TV and on the streets," he said.

Parents who've already spent money on clothes and supplies are grateful.

Audrea Thompson brought her two sons into Dennie's barbershop.

"It helps a lot of parents," she said. "Parents who can't afford haircuts are getting the help they need today."

King Milan's barber shop is offering free haircuts until 8 p.m. Monday There are four barbers working.

Milan thinks he will break his record of 216 free haircuts in one day that he set in Gary. His goal is 300.

"We are getting it in, we are not messing around," he said. "We are working hard, and we're going to continue this pace for the rest of the day."

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