By Billy Liggett
Reginald Green, as much as anybody, wants to see COVID-19 go away. The Sanford barber and Moncure native tested positive for the virus back in January, and while the experience wasn’t as bad as many have gone through, he’s certain that a full year earlier — after a trip to Indianapolis to catch a Colts-Panthers game — he came home with either the virus or something very similar.
“I thought it was the flu, but this was different,” he recalls. “It lasted three full weeks, and I couldn’t breathe, especially at night. I thought if this is what death feels like, I was on my way.”
While recent studies have suggested COVID-19 was present in this country as early as December 2019, Green had no way (or reason) to get tested for it then. But whether he’s had it once or twice, he wants to see his community get vaccinated.
To make that happen, he’s offering free haircuts from April 12-15 to anybody with a vaccination card. Anybody with proof of vaccination can sign up for a free cut at joinbarberplus.com (click “book online”) for those three days.
The offer is Green’s way of not only giving back to his community — which he’s done in the past by giving free cuts to the city’s homeless — but also his way of thanking those who are “doing their part to make their community safer.”
“I’m not doing this to try to convince anybody to do something they don’t want to do,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s your choice. But the vaccine is available if you want it, and I want to thank those who’ve gotten it. And if somebody feels compelled to go get the vaccine because of what I’m doing, that’s great, too.”
Green is already getting calls and reservations for his offer. He’s blocked out 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on those three days for people to come in (slots are still open). While the haircuts are free, tips and donations will be accepted.
All donations will go toward the Sanford Barber College on Wicker Street, which gives students an opportunity to learn the skill and have a trade coming out of high school. The money will be used to fund tuition or help pay off loans for the students.
Green grew up in Moncure, a small community in southern Chatham County just north of Sanford, and graduated from Northwood High School in Pittsboro. But Sanford also felt like home — it was where he and his friends would go to hang out. Weekends often involved trips to Kendale Plaza, where they would spend the afternoon at the skating rink or that the $1 movie theater.
“You got dropped off in Sanford and you hung out until your mom picked you up,” he said. “That was my entertainment in middle school and high school.”
Green himself hasn’t been eligible for the vaccine until recently, but is scheduled to get his first shot before his three-day free haircut marathon. He said the pandemic has hurt his business like most barbers, because many are still hesitant to come into close contact with a barber or a stylist.
But as more and more are getting vaccinated (roughly 35 percent of North Carolinians and 23 percent of Lee County residents through March 29), he’s noticing a difference.
“I had a guy come in last week who hadn’t had his hair cut since the start of the pandemic,” he said. “We’ve had people come in who have been vaccinated and people who haven’t. You see a difference in their comfort level — they’re more confident to be sitting in that chair if they’ve gotten the vaccine.”
Visit joinbarberplus.com and click “Book online” to make a reservation or call (919) 292-1966. The business can also be found on Facebook at @joinbarberplus.