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#BetterTogether: CBS New York partners with Big Russ Barber Shop in Harlem for back-to-school haircuts and supplies

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CBS New York, community partners help kids get ready for school year 02:17

NEW YORK -- Kids are getting ready for back-to-school this week, many with a fresh cut.

Here at CBS New York we believe we are #BetterTogether, so we're teaming up with Big Russ Barber Shop in Harlem, Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE, and New York Common Pantry to offer back-to-school haircuts and supplies for Harlem families. 

It's part of our commitment to community through our CBS New York #BetterTogether campaign. 

Read More: #BetterTogether: CBS New York teams up with Big Russ Barber Shop to send kids back to school with fresh haircuts in Harlem

It has been a busy two days getting kids fresh cuts, and it has been beautiful to see Harlem families get ready for back-to-school.

"It's amazing. I'm so excited to go to school to see my friends," said fifth grader Jah-Akel Mitchell.

The grins grew as a select few young men got groomed for the first day of class.

Our #BetterTogether community partner the New York Common Pantry connected their clients with the greatest need to Big Russ's barbers in training.

"Back-to-school time is an exciting time, but it's also an expensive time, so clothes, haircuts, supplies. Being able to invite some of our pantry families down to get those things at no cost is a real boost to them," said Deana Murtha, with the New York Common Pantry.

"It is a blessing because I didn't know it existed," mom Tavia Brown said.

Our parent company Paramount also provided products featuring all the favorite Nickelodeon characters.

The Anderson family found fun among the fundamentals.

"She got some books and a costume, so that was a huge surprise, so we thank you very much and we're very grateful for you guys coming out and doing this for the neighborhood," dad Edward Anderson said.

A neighbor even brought us extra backpacks and supplemented our supplies.

CBS2 president Johnny Green and news director Sarah Burke stopped by to learn more about the impact this training program has through its partnership with Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE. The nonprofit aims to stop another violent end to these precious lives.

"We're teaching most of these guys here a trade to move on in life with, to learn how to make money, to keep them away from the gun violence, and at the same time, we try to deal with the community to give back," Big Russ said.

Khabir Ahmad learned the trade from Big Russ and now styles stars on Broadway when he's not training students here.

"That's what we're here to do, each one teach one. Somebody had to help me. Big Russ gave me a chance when I was working at the shop, so I gotta do the same thing and help everybody else," Ahmad said.

The power of community shines through conversations and cuts. 


"It really means a lot"

#BetterTogether: Harlem coming out to support back to school 04:51

"First of all, let me say thank you Channel 2. You're the best for shining a light on these families. It really became emotional for me, and I was so happy to see the faces of these parents when they leave, of these kids when they can go to the table and pick a toy out or something for school. It really means a lot," said Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE founder Jackie Rowe-Adams. "It costs $30 to get a haircut... so it makes a big difference." 

By Jessi Mitchell

Free haircuts hailed as a "blessing"

Harlem families come out for back-to-school haircuts and supplies 02:12

"It feels amazing, it feels amazing. I didn't even know this existed, I just stumbled upon it, and it was a blessing,"  one mother of four said. 

By Jessi Mitchell

Back to school means significant costs for families

Back-to-school haircuts and swag today in Harlem 02:06

"Back to school time is an exciting time, but it's also an expensive time. So clothes, haircuts, supplies. Being able to invite some of our pantry families down to get those things at no cost is a real boost to them," said Deana Murtha of New York Common Pantry. 

Check out more in the video above. 

By Jessi Mitchell

Another fun day on tap

Back in Harlem for Day 2 of back-to-school haircuts 01:56

"It was amazing yesterday," Russell "Big Russ" Smith told CBS New York's Jessi Mitchell. "Love to see the community come together." 

Check out more of what Big Russ had to say in the video above. 

By Jessi Mitchell

It's Day 2 of our team up with Big Russ!

We're doing it again!

After Tuesday's successful day of getting Harlem kids fresh for back-to-school with free haircuts and a giveaway of some school supplies, we're at it again with Big Russ Barber Shop in Harlem. 

Check out all the fun we had on Tuesday by CLICKING HERE

By Jesse Zanger
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