Oceanside couple and hair salon team up to provide free back to school haircuts for kids

Left to right: Steve Knutson, Kari Knutson, Emmelyn Szopa, Arwen Szopa, Rayne Bennett, stylist, Urban Edge Hair Group, Sue Larsen, owner, Urban Edge Hair Group. || Photo by Kevin Forsyth
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Thirty local children will head back to school with fresh haircuts thanks to the efforts of an Oceanside couple and a local business.

Kari and Steve Knutson said they came up with the idea three years ago when they were trying to think of a way to give back to their community.

“We raised three kids here ourselves and we know going back to school is an expensive time for families,” Kari said. “So we decided that this would be a great opportunity to help parents out with one of the expenses of going back to school.”

This year the Knutsons teamed up with two stylists from Urban Edge Hair Group in Parksville for three days of back to school haircuts.

“We pay them for a portion of the haircut and they donate the rest of it — their time, and then we supply goody bags for each of the kids as an extra little treat,” said Kari.

The event has grown since its first year, when 15 kids got a free back to school cut. 

Last year there was a slower response because of COVID-19-related uncertainty. This year the 30 spots filled up within a few days, the Knutsons said. Kari said they mostly got the word out through social media.

“I think there’s a lot of young families that could use the help,” said Steve.

The final day of haircuts will wrap up this afternoon (Sept. 3).

Haircut 2
Arwen Szopa, 6, gets a haircut from stylist Rayne Bennett at Urban Edge Hair Group in Parksville on Sept. 2. || Photo by Kevin Forsyth.
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