Some children and their parents experienced the true meaning of Christmas in the heart of Harlem. They have a salon owner and her staff to thank for some holiday cheer and for keeping them warm. Steve Kastenbaum filed the following report.
Michelle Smalls was inspired to do something for kids in need when she saw a boy a walking to school on a cold day a few weeks ago wearing only a sweater. When she asked him why he didn't have a coat on he told her that he didn't own one.
“I get choked up, definitely to see people without,” Smalls said.
“The next day I bought a couple of coats, maybe about five. Then next week I bought about ten. By the time I got to December, I got 200. And I put on Instagram that I had 200 coats, my friends donated another 200 so I ended up having over 400 coats,” said Smalls.
Fast forward to Christmas.
Dozens of kids, many who live in shelters, learned the meaning of the word generosity at a salon on 132nd Street and 7th Avenue. Michelle and her staff gave away all of those coats.
They also pampered the kids.
Throughout the day parents brought their children into the High Maintenance Hair Salon and were treated like royalty. They had their hair washed and blown and then a stylist gave them a brand new hairdo. Before they walked out, each child got a brand new winter coat along with a toy for Christmas.
“So many little girls have never had their hair done properly, so when they come in here and get washed and conditioned, they really feel special. And it's always special to make a woman, a young woman, feel beautiful, feel attractive. So we own a salon, so why would we not give that back?” said stylist Vaughn McIver.
Many of these children received very little for the holiday. If it wasn't for this salon, some would have gotten nothing at all.
“I feel kind of happy that people are giving me new coats because I never had a new coat since now and I really wanted a coat like this,” said 5-year-old Ladainian Mack.
“I think she's a wonderful person for giving my nieces, my nephews coats for the winter time and I would like to just send a big thank you,” said Sovina Oliver.
It was such an emotional day at the hair salon that Michelle Small and her staff said next year they want to double the number of coats they give away.