Breaking News
More () »

'It can change your whole world': Barber traveling to all 50 states giving free haircuts makes stop in Columbia

Irvin Pelton began his cross-country trip in 2020 with the goal of offering free haircuts in all 50 US states. South Carolina makes stop number 27.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Hawai'i resident is traveling across all 50 states giving out free haircuts to anyone who needs one. 

Irvin Pelton is now stopped in Columbia, which marks his 27th state. 

"My God, it can change somebody's life," Pelton shared about the power of a haircut. "It can change your whole world."

This is a lesson Pelton realized when he became a barber 45 years ago. Now, he’s decided to travel through all 50 United States to trim people’s hair for free.

"When I was sitting in Hawai'i three and a half years ago and I went and told my friends, 'Hey, Uncle Irv is going to the mainland, gonna travel," Pelton remembers. "They laughed, some of 'em laughed, they thought it was so funny."

But now he’s in the Midlands, marking off state no. 27. When he lands in a new state, he does research to see where his services are needed.

When he began exploring Columbia, he heard about Fort Jackson. At first, he didn't recognize the name.

"And it hit me," Pelton laughed. "I went to there for basic training 49 years ago."

Outside of Fort Jackson, he connected with Marla Armfield from Transitions Homeless Center when he arrived in South Carolina.

"I think it’s awesome," Armfield explained. "He’s traveling all over giving out good services and making the clients feel good and I love it."

Pelton is at the shelter every day, giving haircuts to people like James Nabors.

"It makes me feel better of a person because my appearance speaks a lot," Nabors told me.

Watching their reaction makes it worth it for Pelton, who shut down his barber shop in Michigan years ago to better serve his community.

The idea first started when he offered free haircuts to military members at his barber shop. 

"We’ve seen what our military personnel go through in order to help protect us and what we go through and I thought man, I just gotta do something more. I just don't feel like I’m doing my part," Pelton explained. "I realized that all the money in the bank account wasn’t gonna help me none. I felt better and I made a bigger difference in the world by doing what I do now that what I used to do."

It's a message Pelton would like others to consider.

"If you wanna do something, support anything," Pelton shared about helping out the community. "Pick up garbage, deliver a meal, buy a bed for somebody."

Pelton will be at Transitions at least through Friday. His next stop will be somewhere in Florida. He plans to finish his trip in February 2025.

Before You Leave, Check This Out