By Sally Voth -- svothnvdaily.com
KERNSTOWN -- Several hundred youngsters will start classes with new school supplies and new hairstyles thanks to a team of dedicated hairstylists.
LL McKee Salon, at 149 Creekside Lane in Creekside Village, is hosting its fifth annual Give Back with Cuts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
"We have 325 kids that have vouchers, and we just recently gave 25 more to social services just in case they know anybody last minute," salon owner Lisa McKee said.
The pupils, from Frederick County and Winchester, and the Evans Home for Children, were chosen by guidance counselors and social workers to get a free shampoo and haircut, all the school supplies they need -- including a backpack -- and lunch, as well as the chance to play in a moon bounce, eat snow cones, and see race cars from the Winchester Speedway.
Teachers will be in attendance to make sure the children get the needed supplies for their grade -- "all the way down to the tissues on their school supply list, the zippy bags or the kindergarten mats" -- McKee said. She said the salon also tries to provide coupons for Happy Meals.
The hairstylists donate their time, and each is asked to get two businesses to donate so the school supplies can be bought, McKee said. The salon also hosted a car wash and bake sale in the spring, and is selling $5 raffle tickets for a basket of more than $300 worth of salon products to raise money.
Normally, children's haircuts are $20 at the salon. About 15 hairstylists will be snipping that day.
"Nobody gets paid that day," McKee said. "The stylists actually really love it. Each person by the end of the day will have some child that made them very emotional."
For Allyson Sweeney, who has participated in every Give Back with Cuts, last year that child was a kindergartner who couldn't speak English. As she was working on the girl's hair, Sweeney could tell her father told her she looked like a princess.
She went out and picked out a princess backpack for the girl, who wouldn't take it off even as she was getting her hair cut. Recalling the moment gave Sweeney chills.
"To see the look on the children's faces is amazing," she said. "I'm just glad I can be part of it. I can see us in five years having multiple salons helping and multiple people helping. Hopefully it can just be a domino effect and everyone can help out."
The free haircuts were divinely inspired.
"My pastor at church, they're always trying to tell you how you can use your talent for good," McKee said. "I'm a hairdresser. I really don't know how to do anything else other than hair."
Her pastor told her there had to be a way she could use her skill to help others.
"I said, 'You know what, I really like kids,'" recounted McKee, the mother of a 5-year-old and 11-year-old.
That's how the free cuts were started. After the first year, she added school supplies to "help them build the confidence they need to start the school year off right because kids can be kind of mean.
"Everybody wants to be in style and be fashionable and fit in with their peers," McKee said. "Having that cool-looking backpack that's not falling apart ... not having to be the person in class who has to get up and ask your teacher for a pencil. Everybody feels better when they look better."
McKee hopes the event will grow to include many stylists from other salons. Already, two hairdressers from other businesses have pitched in.