Sam's Hairstyling and Barbering
For the past few weeks a mountain of toys has steadily grown inside Sam’s Hairstyling and Barbering on Main Street. At owner Sam Artino’s barber station, a ring of gift cards and checks circled his mirror, each one a donation on top of the toy drive. By early December, Artino said his shop had just broke their goal of $1,100 in donations that will go to orphanages the Friends of Foster Children San Gabriel Valley serves.
“It’s something I do, to give back to those around who don’t have as much,” Artino said, holding a comb in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.
Artino is an engaged host. As he cuts hair, Artino sometimes yells with a booming voice across the room to speak with a customer or answer the phone. He's also modest. Leaning against a table is a lifetime appreciation award from Friends of Foster Children San Gabriel Valley.
“They gave that to me because I’m the oldest member who’s still alive,” said Artino, who has been a member of the charity since 1975 and contributing gifts to children just as long.
This year Artino tried something new – gift cards for older children. Most of the toys in the shop are for children no older than 12, but Artino feels that teenagers are more concerned with clothes or electronics.
“One of my customers suggested this and who would have thought that one of my customers was so smart, that we give the kids the option to do online shopping,” he said. “It would be too much of a hassle to take all the kids shopping, but when you can have all of that shipped to their door, well it’s a beautiful thing.”
There are five orphanage houses with about 60 children in each. Artino donates anonymously and so there's never a connection between him and the children – only the toys that hang around his shop for a few weeks before they're shipped off. On Wednesday morning the charity collected the gifts, though Artino said that people are still sending in money and presents to him which he will make sure gets to the needy children.
Sam's Hairstyling and Barbering, 1103 E. Main St. Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 570-1230