Starting the first day of school off with confidence can go a long way in setting the tone for a good year. One way children can do that is with a fresh and fashionable haircut that gives them a reason to smile and be confident.

Ten years ago, Bailey Englert, then a high-schooler interested in hair design, thought there should be a way for families to get a back-to-school haircut without worrying about cost. Her idea for Tidy Trims has since become an annual event.

This year’s Tidy Trims, hosted by the River Center Family and Community Resource Center, will be held Monday, Aug. 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Union Congregational Church in Peterborough, 33 Concord St. Families with a need are welcome to stop in to the event where volunteer hairstylists and barbers from throughout the community will be on-hand to

help children look their finest for their big first day back in class.

“Tidy Trims is one of those events where it is high-energy and exciting to see the smiles on all the kids’ and parents’ faces. It is great to see the stylists and barbers who are so enthusiastic, which makes for an all-around great event,” said Margaret Nelson, executive director of The River Center.

As Nelson pointed out, there are many financial considerations involved in going back to school, from school supplies to clothing, and that comes in addition to concerns about new teachers and getting on the bus. By offering free haircuts, Nelson hopes that is one less thing parents need to worry about.

“With a new haircut, you feel fresh, confident and as if you are looking your best,” Nelson said. “At the River Center, our mission is to strengthen individuals and families in the eastern Monadnock Region. Getting a new haircut can help do that by giving children a confidence boost and helping with the financial aspect of new school year.”

Nelson said she hopes families throughout the region, not just Peterborough, will come out and take advantage of the Tidy Trims program if they can benefit from it.

“I want folks to understand that the River Center is here for them. We do a lot to help individuals and families,” Nelson said.

The thrill on the children’s faces over their new looks brings Bill and Stephanie Brock, co-owners of Manhattan East Hair Design Studio, back to volunteer for Tidy Trims each year.

“Tidy Trims is such a great success and we have been involved with it ever since Bailey, who worked part-time for us then, asked us to participate,” Bill said. “The River Center does a great job coordinating and scheduling and I bring mirrors and chairs. It is not a lot to give up, in hours, as a stylist, and we’ve never thought twice about participating and giving back to the community.”

“Stephanie has said many times that there is nothing like when a little girl gets her hair done and she looks so pretty and leaves with a hug,” Bill continued. “Seeing those faces coming in and then going out with a big smile is a totally different way of looking at things. The kids are more confident, and I think it really does make a difference.”

This year, one of the stylists volunteering her time, and coming all the way from New York City, is event creator Bailey Englert. “I started this in high school to fill a need that I saw and now I am so blown away by what the River Center and the stylists have built. It is so incredible to come back and see how it has grown,” Englert said.

Now in its fourth year, The Barbery will hold a similar event, together with the Keene Parks and Recreation Department and area volunteer hairstylists and barbers, Sunday, Aug. 25, starting at 10 a.m. at the Keene Recreation Center, 312 Washington St., for school-age students on the western side of Mount Monadnock to also start the school year looking sharp. The event is free, with no tips allowed.

Tidy Trims is free and open to all families in the area for whom a no-cost back-to-school haircut will alleviate stress and financial strain. Haircuts will be given on a “first come, first served” basis and parents can RSVP (for planning purposes only) or learn more about The River Center at To learn more about the free back-to-school haircuts in Keene, visit