Staff at Fantastic Sams in Oakdale have figured out a way to incorporate volunteerism at work.
Almost three years ago, Fantastic Sams began "Cutting Cuz We Care," which gives free haircuts to families struggling to get by. Salon Manager Jackie Shoop and Assistant Manager Kim Zugschwert collaborated with Owner Mary Kramer on the idea.
"I kept hearing customers come in who had recently lost their jobs and were now stretching their dollars," Shoop. "This helps people who are not necessarily in poverty, but people who need a little extra help."
In the beginning of the program, staff used to do outreach at a women's shelter in White Bear Lake. Later, Shoop said they wanted to figure out a way to help the immediate community.
Fantastic Sams then partnered with Skyview Middle School — which is across the street — to help find kids and families in the school who needed a free haircut. The school counselors found students who needed the extra help and provided them "free haircut cards" that the students and their families could redeem at Fantastic Sams.
Besides partnering with Skyview, Fantastic Sams has also gotten the word out about the coupons through Project Family Connect. Project Family Connect is an event through School District 622 that connects families with services they need, from housing or medical needs to food and toiletry items.
"It's not like a permanent fix, but it might put a smile on a face when they're going through something rough," Shoop said. "The extra things, like a haircut, are the first to be cut during hard times."