Free back-to-school haircut event named for barber who gave back


AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than two dozen barbers and hairstylists will offer free haircuts to hundreds of central Texas kids on Sunday, August 12, as part of an annual back-to-school event.

The Gabe Rodriguez Back to School Haircut Event, happening from 2-4 p.m. at the South Austin Recreation Center, will also provide donated backpacks while they’re still available.

Started back in 2010 by organizer Marina Ortiz, the event has only grown, from just a handful of hair-cutters the first year to at least 27 this year.

“They’re all strictly volunteers,” Ortiz said. “We put it on social media and they see our flyer, they call and they want to help.”

Last year the stylists performed more than 230 haircuts and gave out hundreds of backpacks. 

Ortiz named the event for her uncle Gabe Rodriguez to honor his contributions to the community over the years. Throughout his career as a barber, he worked to send kids to camp and gave out free haircuts.

“His heart was so big,” she said.

In 2016, Rodriguez had a medical operation, and even though he couldn’t move very well, Ortiz said, he showed up at the haircut event to keep giving back. Rodriguez died just a few months later, and Ortiz named future events in his honor.

“His memory is living on, giving back to the community. And that’s what we do, and that’s what he would do,” Ortiz said. “He never missed a year, my uncle Rudy never missed a year.”

Rudy Rodriguez, Gabe’s brother, still cuts hair at his north-central Austin shop. He’ll be there this year, too, carrying on his brother’s legacy.

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