Barber raises money for Laflin fire victims’ funeral services

By Kulsoom Khan - kkhan@timesleader.com
A donation jar sits on the counter at Kevin’s Barber Shop, located at 68 Main St. in Laflin. Kevin Uren, shown here cutting the hair of Rick Tomchack, is trying to raise money to cremate the children who died in a recent fire in Oakwood Park in October. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Kevin Uren cuts the hair of Cameron Giannott, 5, of South Wilkes-Barre, Sunday at Kevin’s Barber Shop on Main Street in Laflin. Uren is trying to raise money to cremate the children who died in a recent fire in Oakwood Park. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader

LAFLIN — Kevin’s Barber Shop just opened two weeks ago. In fact, it’s so new it can’t even be located on a map.

Despite being busy with opening the shop at 68 Main St. and getting it ready for customers, owner Kevin Uren held a fundraiser for the victims of a fire that authorities have confirmed was arson. Brothers Erik Dupree, 16, Devon Major, 12, and Ezekiel Major, 8, all perished in the October blaze.

Preston Daquon Bonnett, 26, of Wilkes-Barre, the suspect in the case, has been charged with three charges of criminal homicide and three counts of arson.

Uren lives on Oakwood Drive — just four houses down the street from where the brothers’ home was. He participated in a candlelight vigil two days after the fatal fire with some of his friends who also live in the area.

Uren decided he wanted to do more than just attend a vigil and began collecting donations for the boys’ cremation and funeral services shortly after he opened his shop. On Sunday, he gave free haircuts, but customers could donate whatever amount they chose.

Uren has gathered $750 so far, which has been turned over by the Red Cross to the Kniffen O’Malley Leffler Funeral Home in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, the funeral director said.

to help pay for cremation services performed several weeks ago.

Uren previously owned a barber shop in his hometown of Plymouth, but closed it and relocated to Laflin two years ago. The shop in Laflin is only open on Sundays and Mondays, since Uren has a full-time job.

“It’s a hobby for me,” he said about cutting hair.

Uren feels nothing but remorse for the children who died. “I’m doing this for the kids,” he said. “They’re completely innocent.”

His motivation for holding the fundraiser stems a little from his own childhood. “Growing up, I didn’t have much,” he said. “My parents had to cut my hair and it was bad.”

Ronald Gosart stopped by the shop not to get a haircut, but to donate $100. He has two children of his own as well as grandchildren and, even though he didn’t know the victims or their mother, he said they were part of his community.

“If you don’t care for kids, there’s something wrong with you,” Gosart said.

Dallas resident Mike Balash came with his wife to donate and to receive a haircut. Like Gosart and Uren, the couple has a soft spot in their hearts for children. “Those little tikes didn’t ask for that,” he said, referring to the tragic way the brothers were killed.

Balash commended Uren for his fundraising efforts, as well. “For what you’re doing, you’ll be blessed,” he said on his way out of the shop.

A donation jar sits on the counter at Kevin’s Barber Shop, located at 68 Main St. in Laflin. Kevin Uren, shown here cutting the hair of Rick Tomchack, is trying to raise money to cremate the children who died in a recent fire in Oakwood Park in October.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_barber1_faa-1.jpgA donation jar sits on the counter at Kevin’s Barber Shop, located at 68 Main St. in Laflin. Kevin Uren, shown here cutting the hair of Rick Tomchack, is trying to raise money to cremate the children who died in a recent fire in Oakwood Park in October. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Kevin Uren cuts the hair of Cameron Giannott, 5, of South Wilkes-Barre, Sunday at Kevin’s Barber Shop on Main Street in Laflin. Uren is trying to raise money to cremate the children who died in a recent fire in Oakwood Park.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_barber2_faa-1.jpgKevin Uren cuts the hair of Cameron Giannott, 5, of South Wilkes-Barre, Sunday at Kevin’s Barber Shop on Main Street in Laflin. Uren is trying to raise money to cremate the children who died in a recent fire in Oakwood Park. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

By Kulsoom Khan

kkhan@timesleader.com