A Freeport barbershop, a Uniondale nonprofit, and a Nassau County legislator combined forces Saturday to give away shoes, backpacks, school supplies, and free haircuts to local students.
Leon Levar Broughton, who owns Trimz Barbershop, has given away backpacks and school supplies to Long Islanders for more than a decade. On Saturday, he joined nonprofit Heeling Soles and Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) for a barbecue and school supply giveaway event.
Broughton was one of seven barbers who stood under a large, white tent set up near his Freeport shop on Guy Lombardo Avenue and spent four hours cutting hair.
“We’ll probably end up cutting at least 100 heads, easy,” Broughton said with clippers in hand.
Broughton pays for the school supplies, but noted that there was one year where he almost called it quits.
One day in 2007, Broughton said he was in a Staples when an elderly woman approached him. That year, Broughton said he was financially struggling to get the supplies, but the woman recognized him as the barbershop owner.
“She said, ‘You know, what you did for my grandkids was really special to me and I appreciated the help. I’m a single grandmother and I only have my small income and you helped me and my grandkids,’ ” Broughton said.
“After that, this just grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger,” he said
It’s important to supply students with shoes and backpacks, Broughton said, because otherwise they might get bullied by their peers in the classroom.
“We help the community make sure kids go to school with some sneakers, with a backpack, and with a good haircut,” he said. He also had stylists on hand to braid girls’ hair.
A few feet away from Broughton’s barber tent stood Steve Muir in his Heeling Soles tent, where event organizers gave away more than 140 pairs of shoes. Muir, who started the nonprofit in 2013, said the shoes were provided by shoe collectors, private citizens, and monetary contributions from groups such as the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association.
Muir, of Uniondale, said organizers gave away shoes ranging from baby size to 13. Having new shoes gives students confidence throughout the year, he said.
“It’s one less thing they gotta worry about,” he said “If they have new supplies, new backpacks, and their sneakers are fresh, they can go to school and focus on what they went to school for — and that’s learning.”
Broughton said he continues to host the giveaway because of the thank-yous and hugs he gets from parents who appreciate his generosity.
Uniondale mother Felicia Robinson came with her son Tyrese, 15, who “got everything that they were giving out.” Robinson said coming to Saturday’s event was a good idea for her because getting the haircut, backpack, and school supplies “saved me some money.”
Hempstead mother Michelle Legere-Raymond brought her son Noah, 8, and daughter Alesa, 11. It was their first time at the event and they came because Legere-Raymond had nothing else planned for the kids to do this weekend.
“They were giving out [school] supplies, so of course we took advantage of that,” she said.