Every year, the holidays ring in the season of giving. Charitable events like food and clothing drives are happening nearly everywhere, providing students and community members opportunities to give back to the local and global community. In true holiday spirit, the Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP) will be hosting its ninth-annual Hair Warz to raise money for its organization.
According to Mary Kaminsky, director of development at STAP, the organization has more than 1,000 clients, many of whom live well below the poverty line. STAP provides prevention services and outreach for people who are HIV positive or have AIDS. STAP also works with Southern Tier Care Coordination to run syringe exchanges, a food pantry, housing, transportation to appointments, a youth center for LGBTQ youth and allies called Identity and numerous other programs and initiatives. Hair Warz is STAP’s annual fundraising event in which eight local salons compete to create the most outrageous and show-stopping hairstyle.
Kaminsky said she originally got the idea for Hair Warz 10 years ago at a conference for local AIDS resource agencies.
“One of the groups had done a hair competition and I thought, ‘What a great idea,’” Kaminsky said. “They shared with us that they didn’t have a lot of success with it and they shared why. That’s what helped me when I decided to create Hair Warz here. This collaboration of groups was really instrumental in starting Hair Warz.”
Kaminsky also explained why STAP decided to work with hair salons.
“We know that a lot of conversations happen in salons,” she said. “It’s a very intimate relationship that people develop over time with their stylists. We thought, who better to partner with than these people who can spread the word about what we do? It was a great collaboration.”
This year, eight local salons and multiple models plan to compete. The competing salons are given the freedom to choose their own theme and walk-out music. Kaminsky said Hair Warz has expanded throughout the years.
“We have salons coming from Ithaca and Pennsylvania — our reach is getting further,” she said. “Salons spend a fortune and put in countless hours, so it’s a lot that we ask of them to do this.”
This year, the event will have two judges who will travel to Binghamton from Rochester.
“L’Oréal sponsors our event and provides a judge for us every year, so the judges are artists who are very well respected in the community,” Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky emphasized the reach of Hair Warz in the community.
“What’s really valued is conversations that our stylists will have within their salons about us and what we do,” she said. “And the money that we raise will help us do the work that we do and help countless people in the area.”
Apart from raising money for STAP, Kaminsky said Hair Warz highlights the talent of local hairstylists.
“It’s amazing to see this kind of talent — you feel like you’ve gone to the city, and we try to bring a piece of that right here with the runway show,” Kaminsky said.
Hair Warz will be taking place this Sunday, Dec. 8 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Downtown Binghamton. The doors open at 3 p.m. and the show runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are available online for $35.