For most of us Sunday is a day of rest. For the volunteers at the Monsanto YMCA this weekend, it was anything but.
Hundreds of children poured through the doors for the annual Craig Blac’s Community Cuts for Kids event. This Sunday’s mammoth task was to cut or style the hair of over 300 children before their return to school. A 30 strong team containing a mixture of both experienced stylists and students from the Paul Mitchell hair college here in St. Louis, crammed in to the Monsanto YMCA on Page Avenue for four hours of hair cuts, hot dogs, school books, screaming and Moon Bounce. Those of you who have never had a go on a Moon Bounce, you don’t know what you are missing. Quite frankly I was a little upset they deflated it before I had my turn.
Over the past nine years Craig Blac’s Community Cuts for Kids has impacted over 27,000 kids in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, providing them with not just haircuts and school supplies but also health screenings, books and dental health care products.
This has, without a doubt, been one of my favorite days in St. Louis. It’s definitely been the loudest, and the most chaotic, but by far the day that had the most laughter, and the one that made the most sense.
The volunteers there regularly take time out of their day to help with the Community Cuts for Kids mission of building self confidence within inner city youth.
Craig Blac, a former radio personality in the St. Louis area and the founder of CCFK, started the event 10 years ago, after an on-air dare to put together a back to school event. The event aimed to motivate children to learn by equipping them with the tools they need for going back to school, and instilling a sense of self esteem. The event was a huge success, and has grown tremendously since.
As Rory mentioned in his latest blog, Monsanto employees donated 10,000 hours of their time to volunteer in their community over the last year. This year, I am a little ashamed to say, I have donated six. Yes that may be six more than many people, but being in a city like St. Louis, surrounded by a community so driven to give back is inspiring, and something I plan to take home with me.
To be a part of this community for just one day was very touching, and an experience I won’t forget. So many things we do are self motivated, that it’s easy to forget that an afternoon of your time is all it takes to make a difference. A free haircut, school bag and school supplies can change the way nearly 1,000 children walk into school on Monday morning. Prepared, confident and proud.
Monsanto employees and St. Louisians alike are all incredibly giving and it is very much a part of the culture here to give your time or money to worthy causes. It was great seeing so many other Monsanto employees volunteering their Sunday for the local community, and greater still to see so many more from Top Teens of America, Wells Fargo, Urban League Young Professionals and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
In fact there were so many volunteers that we ran out of Community Cuts for Kids t-shirts. As a runner for the stylists for the day, I was gifted one of the much coveted t-shirts. As designated hand-stamper for every child who had their hair styled, I was suckered into letting many doe-eyed children stamp me in return. Six hours later, I left the YMCA exhausted but happy, with a slightly grubby Community Cuts t-shirt, and a very green left hand.
Donations for school supplies came from:
Dean Team Brentwood Used Auto Sales
“Cheers” Social Book Club
Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House
Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC Local 6355
Barbers / Stylists came from
Leonard’s Barber College
Vatterott Beauty / Barber College
St Louis Hair Academy
Elaine Stevens Beauty College
St Charles Barber College
Master Touch Style Center
First Class Barbershop
Cosby’s International Hair Academy
The group serviced close to 1,000 kids in the St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois, communities on Sunday 8/14, from 2-6pm at three locations: Monsanto YMCA, Herbert Hoover Boy’s & Girl’s Club, and the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, Mary Brown Center.
By Kitty Gordon
Editor’s note: Kitty Gordon is one of two UK interns spending their summer at Monsanto’s global headquarters, under a program with Scotland’s Saltire Foundation. The Saltire Foundation is an independent charitable organization representing a new vision for Scotland, providing invaluable opportunities through experience, learning and business networking. Its undergraduate internship programme offers Scotland’s students the chance to spend 8 weeks working at a top multinational company with the aim of encouraging candidates to develop their confidence, skills and capacity to succeed.