Old Town salon holds haircut fundraiser to help Ukrainian women and children

Scott Yance, owner of Scottfree Salon, decided to hold the event after first supporting a Ukrainian hairstylist who fled to Germany and urged him to “take care of the people in the refugee camps.”

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Steve Olson, stylist and co-owner of Scottfree Salon, left, gives John Craib-Cox a trim during a “Haircuts for Ukraine” fundraiser for UNICEF at Scottfree Salon in Old Town, Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last month, salon owner Scott Yance tried to get in touch with a friend and fellow hairstylist who lived in the war-torn country.

After a week of radio silence, his friend, Valery Mnogolit, finally responded with good news.

Mnogolit had safely been evacuated to a Ukrainian refugee camp and planned to make her way to Poland. Once there, she told Yance that she planned to continue on to Germany, though she noted her hairdressing supplies had been lost in the shuffle and worried that her own salon was gone.

“As just a human being, it was like, listen we’re gonna wire you some money,” said Yance, the founder of Scottfree Salon in Old Town. “Buy scissors, buy everything you need.”

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Scott Yance, owner of the Scottfree Salon, stands at one of his salons during a “Haircuts for Ukraine” fundraiser for UNICEF at Scottfree Salon in Old Town, Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

She took him up on the offer, but had one key stipulation: “Please take care of the people in the refugee camps,” Yance recalled her saying.

On Thursday, he lived up to that request.

Scottfree offered free haircuts with a donation of at least $25 (they normally cost $150), then donated the proceeds to the humanitarian organization Unicef to support Ukrainian women and children affected by the war.

“I can’t fathom this,” Yance said of the refugee crisis. “It just spoke to us and seemed like something that we could do that would be positive.”

By the late afternoon, a steady stream of customers continued to flow into the salon. Yance noted that stylists from his two other Scottfree salons in Wisconsin even came to help meet the demand.

John Craib-Cox, who lives in the neighborhood and has been a loyal customer, said he popped in when he noticed a balloon display with the colors of the Ukrainian flag. After learning what was going on, he hopped in a stylist’s chair and got a trim.

“You hear about it [but] there’s nothing positive to do,” Craib-Cox said of the war. “You can’t go to the cash machine and say ‘Ukraine.’ … And this was something tangible I could do, and so I did it.”

“This is perfect,” he added. “It’s immediate action. You walk down the street and bingo, you see it.”

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