California barbershop gives back to people with special needs

SAN MATEO, Calif. -- A California barbershop is giving back to people with special needs by helping them feel and look sharp this holiday season.

Hope is one of the dozens of adults and kids with special needs who got a day off from their usual activities to go to a holiday haircut party at the San Mateo Zoo Barbershop. "Some kids with autism, some adults with autism, just general developmental disabilities," Gatepath Family Resources Center Peter Caraher said.

The Gatepath Family Resource Center is working with the shop's owner, Travis Sweeney.

Sweeney has a daughter with special needs and he wanted to give back. "They've helped me and my family and my daughter so much that I'd like to do something for them," he said.

Getting other barbers on board was as easy as asking. "I'm always looking for opportunities to give back to the community and cut hair," one employee said.

It's even easier with such grateful customers.

Beyond just a free haircut, what they're offering there is a haircut in a safe environment, with barbers who are prepared to take a little extra time communicating with clients who might be easily overwhelmed. "There might be some sensitivity to light or your vibration that you might not know about, so it's getting to know the individual and making sure that through the process they're comfortable," Sweeney said.

For Sweeney, a shop full of happy customers is the best present a barber could ask for. "If we're able to give back and make an impact throughout the holiday, that's payment enough for me," he said.
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