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Cut-a-thon fundraiser helps Food Bank help others

Orange is the hot new color for fingernails.

At least it was for thumbnails Sunday at the Salon Professional Academy of Buffalo, which hosted a “Trim Hunger” fundraiser to benefit the Food Bank of Western New York.

From 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the beauty salon and cosmetology school offered haircuts by students for $10, by instructors for $20, as well as shampoos, braids and blow-drying. Customers also could get their nails polished and their make-up applied.

And for $5, they could have their thumbnails painted orange – the official color of hunger awareness.

Every dollar paid for those services at the Eggert Road academy will be donated to the Food Bank, said franchisee Peggy Grenauer.

“No one should have to go hungry,” said Sharon Grandoni, who got a fresh hairstyle and her thumbs painted orange. She has known Grenauer for 25 years. “I came out to support a good friend and a good cause.”

In addition to Sunday’s event, the salon will be collecting nonperishable foods through Wednesday to give to the Food Bank. In return, clients will get a $3 voucher toward a future service at the academy.

The vast majority of the donations to the Food Bank come through community campaigns like Trim Hunger, said Catherine Shick, public and community relations coordinator for the Food Bank. Every dollar the Food Bank gets is turned into six meals, she said.

“That’s why events like this one are just fantastic … just having every dollar coming from this,” Shick said. “Community partners are what help us fight hunger one day at a time. Without the community, we’d have a much more difficult time” helping those in need.

Through its 326 member agencies in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, the Food Bank serves about 117,000 people each month. Those agencies include child care centers, food pantries, group homes, senior citizen programs, shelters, soup kitchens and summer camps, allowing the Food Bank to provide more than 15 million pounds of food annually across the four counties.

Of the Food Bank’s beneficiaries, approximately 44,000 are children and 13,000 are senior citizens. And even though support is needed all year round, the upcoming holiday season is the Food Bank’s busiest time, Shick said.

“We’ve started preparing for the holiday season. It’s a high-need season,” she said.

Trim Hunger is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and donations that address the problem of hungry families in America. Founder Josif Wittnik held the first Trim Hunger fundraiser last year at the Salon Professional Academy he co-owns in Appleton, Wis., raising thousands of dollars to help the local food bank there provide meals to the community.

Building on that success, Wittnik invited all 20 Salon Professional academies around the country to participate in this year’s fundraiser. The Eggert Road site is the only one in New York State, said Grenauer, who approached the Food Bank about hosting the event locally.

Organizers were hoping all 20 locations would break the Guinness World Record for the most people cutting hair at the same time, but it was not known by Sunday evening if they were successful.

Meanwhile, all of the local student stylists and their instructors volunteered their time, including teacher Kate Meginley, who has worked at the Buffalo site for seven and a half years.

“I don’t ever want to see any child go hungry,” Meginley said. “I’ve got four kids, so I know how hard it is to keep food on the table.”