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Winder barber shop helps veteran causes

WINDER — For military veterans, it's Christmas year-round at one Barrow County barber shop.

An unusual Christmas tree in Terrell's and Ciara's Barber Shop is one demonstration of how Carolyn Baggett feels about veterans. Underneath the white artificial tree are big shell casings, a military hat and other items, including a holstered pistol. The holster is real, but the pistol is a plastic water gun.

They are part of the military memorabilia collection of Winder's Ron Beacham, chaplain and finance officer of Winder's AMVETS Post 12.

A pair of military uniforms hang on one wall; another bears a POW/MIA flag.

But more important are the two collection jars on the business desk of the barber shop, named for the owner's grandchildren.

"That's what it's all about," she said.

One jar is for donations to Barrow County's shelter for homeless Northeast Georgia veterans. A message taped to the other jar asks for contributions to the family of Sam Walley, a Bethlehem solider who lost an arm and leg to an explosive device in Afghanistan two days after his 20th birthday.

The funds, along with fundraisers others in the area have sponsored, help Walley's family travel and stay in Bethesda, Md., where the young soldier is in treatment and rehabilitation.

Customers and others have put in hundreds of dollars to help the causes, as well as earlier efforts Baggett supported.

Baggett also helps in other, smaller ways.

A regular haircut costs $10, but customers like 20-year-old Hoschton Marine Ryan Weathers, just home from Afghanistan on post-deployment leave, pay just $8 for a military haircut.

The barber shop owner isn't from a military family, but some of her loyal customers drew her into helping veteran's causes. Quite a few are older veterans, some with painful medical conditions.

"I always try to give them a smile and try to cheer them up," she said. "They have been so good to me over the years."

Some come at least partly because of one hard-to-find service the barbershop provides — a back-of-the-neck shave with hot lather. A while back, some of her patrons were distressed to find that the hot lather machine broke.

"They were squirming and jumping," she said.

Now there are three hot-lather machines in the barber shop.

Veterans aren't the only people she tries to help.

"Carolyn also has a passion for the needy," Beacham said.

She's volunteered to give free haircuts to homeless people, he added.

The military Christmas tree will eventually go, at least for a while, replaced with a green one nearer to the holiday season.

Baggett said she's glad that today veterans get more respect than when Vietnam veterans came home in the 1960s and 1970s.

"I'm glad to see that people are acknowledging soldiers a lot more than they used to," she said.