Lowering ears and raising funds


Barber Detronza Kirksey had just started his job at Cliques Beauty and Barber on Tuesday and was working for free by Wednesday – by choice. The proceeds from that day of work went to Haiti relief instead of into his pocket.

As local connections to the Haiti earthquake tragedy sprout up all over the University of Minnesota campus, the Dinkytown business is using its resources to raise money.

The business is co-owned by Haitian Valerie Turner, who moved to the United States from Haiti when she was 10 and had relatives in Haiti at the time of the quake.

Turner did not hear from her aunt, uncle or father until five days after the quake.

“It was torturous for me,” Turner said. “Every time you’re watching TV and you saw those bodies, you’re sort of thinking, ‘OK, my father is probably one of those people.’ “

Turner said she can’t help but be grateful for the support system she found in Cliques and for the time donated by the employees.

“It is just as great of a feeling as seeing all of the nations and all of the people who are giving in any way,” she said. “It’s just an awesome, awesome feeling and it means so much.”

Barbers at the shop donated their time, and all proceeds of haircuts – at their regular prices – went to the American Red Cross Haiti relief fund.

“Aside from giving personally, we wanted to do something as a company,” said co-owner P.J. Hubbard.

He said he hoped the shop would raise “at least a couple hundred dollars” over the course of the event.

“Whatever type of clients we get are beneficial,” Kirksey said. “A barber [is] always hoping that it’ll pick up.”

Small-scale operations like this can end up being an enormous help, said Lynette Nyman, media and government relations manager for the Twin Cities chapter of the American Red Cross.

Nyman referenced the popularity of a small donation sent to the Red Cross through a text message.

“Across the country, for example, $31 million was raised,” Nyman said. “And that was $10 per text.”

Twin Cities Red Cross fundraising events manager Hilary Smith said she has heard from more than 100 small businesses, schools and other community groups inquiring about what they can do to help Haiti.

“Every organization that does a little, it really adds up, whether it’s a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars,” Smith said.

Acknowledging the expected long-term relief efforts in Haiti, Hubbard said the shop is planning at least one more similar charity event, most likely to take place Monday.