SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — The Rebecca Johnson School in Springfield was buzzing with families attending a back-to-school event organized by the Back-to-School Brighter initiative. The event got students excited for back to school, offering free haircuts, backpacks, food and more.
“They come in, they get their hair cut. they clap you in the hand, they feel good. It’s part of that process, you feel good, you look good, don’t you. It brings a level of confidence and so for a lot of these students, that’s what it adds,” said Chris Sutton, principal of Rebecca Johnson Elementary School.
This event, which prepares students for a successful back-to-school season, has humble beginnings.
“It’s grown, we actually started in the barber shop with just three barbers and here in year seven we have 17 barbers, we have the whole gym, we have the mobile arcade, we have food, we have backpacks. So the event has grown tremendously over the past few years,” said LaMar Cook, co-founder of Back to School Brighter Initiative.
The organizers are grateful for the opportunity to help the community.
“Even before COVID, it was hard for a lot of people to come in, you know, get their hair cut, get school supplies, get anything… lunches when they cut the lunch schedule. We just do our best to give back every year,” said Clarence Smith, owner of Final Touch Barbershop.
The parents are grateful for the financial assistance provided by this event.
“It helps a lot, you know. I don’t have to worry about schoolbags and supplies, so that helps a lot,” said Springfield resident Lolethia Semboko.
With summer winding down, this event gets students ready and excited for the school year ahead. Springfield’s Kamden Cook said, “We can have fun. Everything for children and it’s great!”
Organizers said the event’s popularity, as well as community support, helped make it the success it is today.