COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kids are returning to in-person learning and one Columbus barber is making sure they return in style.
Robert Cayson has been cutting hair for years.
Serving a range of customers, he knows the impact a fresh haircut can have on someone’s confidence. For many parents, a haircut, new supplies and fresh school clothes can be tough to navigate financially.
He originally started volunteering his skills while still in barber school.
He partnered with the Columbus shoe store, Sole Classics. He cut kids’ hair for free for their back-to-school event, but after seeing the impact, he decided to start his own event.
“I just wanted more experience,” said Cayson. “I liked what I was doing and so I decided to do my own.”
Cops and Barbers started four years ago when Cayson reached out to Columbus Police officer Pete Casuccio.
He wanted to get an idea of what areas would best benefit from his services. Casuccio was inspired by Cayson’s love for the community and offered to provide backpacks and school supplies while Cayson provided haircuts.
They held their first event in Linden, packing dozens of notebooks, crayons and glue the night before.
The event grew after partnering with Parks and Recreation, serving nearly 1,000 kids in 2019.
The community continues to move through the pandemic, causing the event to look a little different this year.
They served 200 kids over two days and created socially distanced stations where kids could do crafts, get a free haircut, pick up school supplies and grab a bite to eat.
Over the past year, police and community relations have been strained, with an increase of protests and push for reform.
Casuccio said events like these are the best way to start rebuilding trust and empathy between cops and the community.
“The community members have to have that trust and mutual respect that they can come to you,” said Casuccio. “We can’t have hard conversations until we can have easy conversations right. This is the fastest way to start those easy conversations and hopefully work towards those harder conversations at some point.”
Masks and hand sanitizer were also included in the kids’ backpacks since many central Ohio school districts have mandated kids, teachers and guests to wear masks.