BRANDON — The buzzing resonated throughout the Brandon High School gym as students sat on stools wearing a black barber cape and white Sanek neck strips.
Electric clippers and clicking scissors sent a signal on Sunday: It’s Back To School time. And for a select group of kids, the haircuts were free.
Nearly 70 Hillsborough County students from numerous grade levels received a free haircut during Driven Church’s first back to school event. A total of 26 barbers from various barbershops such as Artistic Nails and Beauty Academy and TimeOut Barbershop, volunteered to serve people. Hairstylists also came to offer female students haircuts.
Braylon Betschner, 12, received a skin fade haircut by Alex Casso from TimeOut Barbershop and walked away impressed with the style.
"Getting this haircut for school means so much to me because people will see my hair and give remarks on how nice it looks and that feels good," said Braylon, a Mulrennan Middle seventh grader.
His mother, Jasmin Betschner, noted she would pocket a few extra dollars because of Driven’s charity.
"It saved us $40 and to some that may not seem like much," Jasmin Betschner said. "To add, it also helps families who might be struggling and cannot afford haircuts."
Besides the haircuts, students received free items, donated through numerous vendors. WJIS-FM 88.1, the Joy FM, gave sunglasses and reusable plastic cups. Nothing Bundt Cakes provided bite-sized cake pieces in a variety of flavors.
It all came into fruition through an idea from Driven Church lead pastor Joon Tavarez. Driven Church not only just decided to do something for the community, but also partnered with other people who shared the same vision as well. He wanted to implement a unique way to help students by fulfilling a need they wish to accomplish before heading back to school.
"With a haircut I believe that students will walk into school with more confidence, which we want to instill in them," Tavarez said.
Tavarez said Driven wanted to make the most of an opportunity, and a connection with local barbers and the community helped bring it to fruition.
On Sundays Driven Church conducts their 10 a.m. service inside the auditorium at Brandon High. Before this back to school event, Tavarez reached out to Brandon High School’s principal, Jennifer Sparano. With Driven Church already being part of the school, Sparano granted them permission to utilize their gymnasium for the free haircut event.
"We are so grateful and always eager to partner with our community organizations and Driven Church," Sparano said.
Overall, those who attended will be able to begin the upcoming school year will smiles as they gain a better outlook on their lives with a fresh haircut.
"I believe that Hillsborough County Public Schools made it a priority that we support students and families anyway we can," Sparano said. "This would be an example of something a school can do outside of what it does traditionally for them."
To learn more about Driven Church, visit driven.church.
Contact Tatiana Ortiz at [email protected]