Huntington Barber Shop Gives Kids a Free Haircut and Back-to-School Supplies

The Brothers Barbershop in Huntington Station is where Randy Paul has had his hair cut since he was a kid. Now 24, he and two friends he grew up with want to pass on the tradition to neighborhood kids.

Together with Dave Burgess, the shop’s owner and barber, the group organized an event offering free haircuts to children starting school – as well as a supply of three dozen backpacks with notebooks, colored pencils, small bottles of glue and crayons.

Onya Johnson, of Huntington, gets a haircut from April Adams, at the Brothers Barbershop in Huntington Station on Sunday.
Credit: James Carbone

“The first day of school you look good, you’re going to do well,” said Paul, who graduated from St. Anthony High School before heading to Marist College.

He and his friends Amaru Jones and Kenny Charles wanted to give back to the neighborhood where they grew up. Paul works in the city and lives in Brooklyn, but still comes to Brothers once a month.

“A lot of those kids, I was them 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s a working-class neighborhood. Everyone is blue collar. We just wanted to make sure the opportunity was there for them.

Jones of Huntington Station said they wanted to send students off to a new school year with a new look. Jones is the president of the Huntington Station-based nonprofit organization, The Leaders of the New School, and Paul its vice president.

“For a kid, when you look good, you feel good,” said Jones, 24, a former sixth grade teacher who now works as a legislative assistant for the Suffolk County Legislative Assembly. “It just makes you want to do better throughout the day.”

Matthew Fullington, 5, gets a haircut from barber Ralston Holung,...

Matthew Fullington, 5, gets a haircut from barber Ralston Holung, at Brothers Barbershop in Huntington Station on Sunday.
Credit: James Carbone

One of the customers on Sunday, Braylen Williams, 9, from Deer Park, got her first haircut and many more at the Brothers store. “It’s very calming,” Braylen said from a chair as Burgess worked on him.

His mother, Marissa Williams, who was seated nearby, said Braylen was thrilled to be back in school and the family were happy to send him back on Tuesday with a full return to post-pandemic normalcy. Braylen will be in fourth grade at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Deer Park.

“We are ready to go,” she said. “The children sit normally to go to class. They can interact with their friends and all events are back. So it’s normal. We like it.

Like the Williams family, Sunday’s event was a regular outing for many who had been frequenting the barbershop for years, if not decades.

Kevin Gibbs, 41, has been coming here since he was a teenager.

Gibbs, who lived in Huntington but moved to Bay Shore, drives from the South Shore to the store for a weekly haircut. He brought his sons, Alex, 6, and Noah, 4, to pick up theirs on Sunday. Alex is about to start first grade and kindergarten Noah.

“It’s like a family, you know? They know my family and I know their family. … I just feel comfortable here,” he said. “So many kids in the community could benefit from it. They have backpacks. That’s really nice. The barbers give up their Sundays and their time to come here to get the children ready for school. I think it’s great.”

Gibbs and others said the store is a place for more than a haircut.

“It’s a place for black men like me to talk about their issues,” Paul said. “It’s where we come to express ourselves about the things that we go through. So the hair salon, especially in a community like this, is like a cornerstone. It’s like Mecca.

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