Edmonton barber hosts free haircuts to give back to less fortunate

An Edmonton barber who immigrated to Canada from Colombia six years ago hosted free haircuts and shaves for the less fortunate to pay forward the help he received.

On Thursday while many people took advantage of Boxing Day sales, five barbers and two hairstylists took turns giving free haircuts, trims and shaves in a party atmosphere at Wilmar Salon.

To get people into the northwest business take advantage of the free service, volunteers drove them from inner-city homeless shelters.

“I feel so good to help people,” said Wilmar Arboleda, a barber and owner of Wilmar Salon. “I feel so good to see how many people who’ve come to help us.”

Prior to the event the barbershop received donations of used clothing, along with brand new socks and gloves that were given to people after leaving the barber chair.

Patrons who wanted to get free haircuts were given rides from Edmonton’s inner city homeless shelters on Thursday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Arboleda moved to Edmonton in 2013 from Colombia. Within about a year he had opened his barber shop in a strip mall of the Prince Rupert neighbourhood.

“At the beginning it was hard, because my English [was] not great,” he said.

He said the free event is his way of paying forward the help he received after moving to the city and starting a business

“I have to say thank you to the Edmonton community, because I have five years working in the barbershop in Edmonton. I have to say I’m very grateful to the community because my career is booming, right. This is my way to say thank you.”

Arboleda was unsure of how many haircuts had been provided, but the barber chair saw a steady flow of people all day. 

When asked how long he’d be giving free haircuts on Boxing Day, Wilmar said he’d stay open as long as people kept arriving.

“I feel good, and when you feel good, you don’t worry about time,” he said.

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