Retired barber gives free haircuts — and donates his tips to help poor South Africans

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In the basement of a Minnesota retirement home, in a workshop-turned-barber shop, Tom Gorzycki is doing what he’s done for 70 years — cutting hair.  While the haircuts are free, tips are expected and appreciated, but they aren’t for him.

Gorzycki learned to cut hair in the Navy, then perfected his skills over 36 years at his Minneapolis barber shop. Now, the 87-year-old retiree uses those skills to help the poorest people of South Africa. 

“There’s a need and I have resources. That’s what you do,” Gorzycki said. 

Gorzycki and his wife, Mary, saw that need firsthand 10 years ago with the organization “Arm in Arm in Africa.” 

He became determined to help, so he set up shop in the basement of the Minneapolis retirement home where he lives. Once a week, he offers free haircuts in exchange for donations to “Arm in Arm in Africa.” The money, Gorzycki said, goes to people who need it more than himself or his friends.

In the five years since he set up shop, Gorzycki has raised $13,000 cutting hair. He’s donated thousands more from his personal savings.

“As long as my hands are steady, I’ll just keep doing it,” he said. “One person can make a difference. You just roll up your sleeves and do what the heck you can.”

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