SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Rebecca Johnson School in Springfield was buzzing with families attending a back to school event hosted by the Back-to-School Brighter Initiative. The event got students excited for the start of school, offering free haircuts, backpacks, food and more.

“They come in, they get a nice haircut. they’re high fiving you, they feel good. It’s part of this process, you feel good, you look good, right. It brings a level of confidence and so for a lot of these students, that’s what this adds on to,” said Chris Sutton, Principal of Rebecca Johnson Elementary School.

This event, which sets students up for success in the start of the school year, has humble beginnings.

“Its grown, we actually started in the barbershop with just three barbers and here at year seven, we have 17 barbers, we have the entire gym, we have the mobile arcade, we have food, we have backpacks. So the event has grown tremendously over the past few years,” said LaMar Cook, Co-founder of Back to School Brighter Initiative.

Organizers are grateful for the opportunity to help the community.

“Even before COVID, it was hard for a lot of people to come, you know, get haircuts, get school supplies, get anything… lunches when they cut the lunch program. We just do our best to give back every year,” said Clarence Smith, owner of Final Touch Barbershop.

Parents are appreciative of the financial help this event provides.

“It helps a lot, you know. I don’t have to worry about the book bag and the supplies so that helps a lot,” said Springfield resident Lolethia Semboko.

With summer winding down, this event get students prepared and excited for the school year to come. Kamden Cook of Springfield said, “We get to have fun. Everything for the kids and it’s awesome!”

Organizers said the popularity of this event, along with the support from the community, helped make it into the success it sees today.