Nanaimo kids get a Fresh Start for the school year

By Spencer Sterritt
September 1, 2018 - 12:18pm

Kids who read a story while getting their haircut or drew a picture for the barbershop received a free backpack full of supplies. Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

Barber Dave Lawrence said with the economy tightening the squeeze on middle class families, there's less and less money every year for expensive back to school supplies.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — Dozens of Nanaimo students will get ready for the first day of school with spiffy new haircuts and a backpack full of supplies.

For the fourth year, the Fresh Start program run by the 50's Barbershop made sure kids are as prepared as possible. On Saturday, Sept. 1, barber Dave Lawrence and his team offered free haircuts for kids and a backpack with all the essentials for those who read a book or drew a picture while in the barber chair.

“It's awesome to help kids feel really positive about going back to school and having that really cool experience,” Lawrence said.

This year, the program encouraged donations of winter coats for kids.

“Teachers I talk to when they come in tell me how at their school kids are showing up without a coat when it's wet or cold,” he said.

The plight of not having a coat during winter hit home for Lawrence, who remembered accidentally losing his own winter coat when he was young and being raised by a single mom.

“My mom would be livid because we couldn't afford to get another winter coat. I remember her crying and being upset because we couldn't afford another one. But it's one of those things where you need to do it.”

Dozens of families lined up outside the barbershop Saturday morning long before the event started.

Parent Vaughan Hopkins, who was taking part for the first time with his family, said the event helped them out tremendously.

“It takes a lot of stress off of getting the kids back to school,” he said, citing the amount of supplies needed every year and the increasing cost of even the smallest things.

Last year, the Fresh Start program suffered a serious setback when several backpacks full of supplies were stolen. Lawrence was happy to share this year suffered no thefts and they had more backpacks than ever.


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