By Elaine Rackley
Darlene Rutledge knows, first-hand, the value of efforts like the "Cut-A-Thon" scheduled Saturday, at Studio Red in McDonough.
It is being done as a fund-raiser to purchase Global Positioning System (GPS) watches for every soldier in a platoon of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which includes two Henry County residents.
Rutledge had two sons, Ben Morens and Matthew Rutledge, to serve in Afghanistan. One is still there. At one time, both were at the same base, at the same time, she said Thursday, while getting her hair cut. "Ben is out of the army now. He served in Afghanistan three times," said Rutledge, of Griffin. "Matthew is in Afghanistan now, he has one more year in the army." He has been in for six years, and serves as a recruiter now, she said.
Rutledge said she would often send Matthew "care packages," which included shampoo. "He would get irritated with me, because the shampoo was the kind that would lather. That was not allowed," said the mother. "He would complain that people could easily locate him [washing his hair in a creek] by following the suds going down the stream."
Matthew was injured while off-duty, watching television in a command tent, when the tent was bombed, in September 2007. "He got hit with shrapnel in his back. Thank God it did not penetrate his skin," said Rutledge. "So for me, any organization that puts something on special for the boys fighting for our freedom, they are top-notch to me."
Studio Red Owner Rachael Talbert, and her staff, will be cutting hair for $25, plus a donation of a host of items for military personnel serving in an Afghanistan platoon that has two Henry County residents as members.
Patrons can donate small toiletries, cards, books, magazines, DVD's, video games, along with other non-perishable items. "Our goal is to purchase 23 [GPS] watches," said Talbert. "Each watch is $149, but if we purchase 23 watches, we can get each watch for $100," she added. All of the [cash] proceeds from the fund-raiser will be used to purchase the GPS watches, continued Talbert.
The "Cut-A-Thon" will be held Saturday, from 4 p.m., until 8 p.m., at the salon located at 94 Vinings Drive. "We are going to be doing as many haircuts, in that amount of time, as we can," said Talbert.
The U.S. Army has requested Talbert not reveal the names of the two local soldiers, nor is she permitted to disclose any information that would identify the platoon.
With the GPS watches, made by Garmin, the soldiers will be able to track each other, as well as, navigate through Afghanistan. "If we go over our goal, we would like to find military families in our area who have needs ...," said Talbert.
There are several activities scheduled during the "Cut-A-Thon," including a raffle, in which patrons can win a personal-training package from L.A. Fitness, or a one-night stay at the Renaissance Hotel in Atlanta.
"We have a number of hair products and hair tools to raffle off as well," added Talbert.
There will also be activities for children to enjoy, such as face-painting and a visit by the Truett's of McDonough Chick-fil-A Cow, Talbert said.
"We want the community to get together to give thanks for what all the men and women are doing over there in Afghanistan," said Balinda Jimenez, one of the six hair stylists at the salon.