When children feel confident, they’re more likely to perform better in school.
Moms like Brittany Starks understand the importance of picking out the right outfit and having your hair look great on the first day of school. She’s experienced poverty all her life, so she didn’t always have the advantages other kids enjoyed.
Brittany currently works three jobs to support her children, 9-year-old Ceniyah and 7-year-old Cayden. The single mom lives paycheck to paycheck, and she’s been homeless twice. A few years ago, she nearly died in a car accident and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be closer to family. Her brush with death filled her with the desire to give back to her community and spread kindness wherever she could.
As the new school semester approached this year, Brittany realized she didn’t have enough money to buy her kids’ school supplies. Luckily, a friend came to the rescue with two backpacks loaded with supplies. The relief Brittany felt was so intense, she vowed to help other parents who may be in the same predicament. While she didn’t have money to offer, she had a valuable skill.
The dedicated mom knows how to braid hair, so she made a Facebook post to offer her time and talents to any student who needed them.
“I wanted to do something for the parents like me whose money is going to feeding their children and making sure they have a roof over their head,” Brittany told CNN. “I wasn’t expecting a big reaction. I thought I’d maybe get five kids or so, but I didn’t realize how huge the need was for this.”
Dozens of grateful parents messaged Brittany. Each complicated hairstyle takes between four and six hours and normally costs hundreds of dollars, but Brittany does them all for free. So far, she’s braided more than 35 children’s hair to get them ready for school!
“The parents’ stories are very similar to mine,” she said. “Being homeless, struggling with depression, and just struggling being a single parent.”
Brittany travels miles to do people’s hair and has braided anywhere you can think of, from church basements to kitchen tables. Some days she braids for so long that she can’t feel her fingertips anymore!
When the demand became too much for her, she enlisted the help of other volunteers to help out. She reluctantly started a GoFundMe to pay for hair supplies, and the fundraiser quickly surpassed her $15,000 goal!
Aside from the personal satisfaction Brittany gets from helping others, she said the best part of braiding a child’s hair is seeing how a nice hairstyle transforms their personalities before her very eyes.
“I had one girl come in who didn’t speak and kept her head down the whole time. But when we were done, and she saw herself in the mirror, she became a different person,” Brittany recalled. “She had the biggest smile on her face. She was so much more engaged. It made me so happy seeing what nice hair did for her confidence.”
Even after everything she’s been through personally, Brittany just wants to ease the burden for other parents struggling to make ends meet.
“As a single parent who has gone through so much of the same struggles they did, I know what these parents are feeling, and if I can help in any way, even if it’s just putting a smile on their faces and easing this burden, I’m going to do it.”
Way to pay it forward, Brittany! We hope all the good she’s putting out in the world comes back to her tenfold.
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