Haircuts in the warehouse with supplies lining the walls of one of the many service areas.

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — It’s Saturday Donations Day. Saturday afternoon you can find Martha LaRue Baker picking up items, directing her army of volunteers, and doing short videos letting the public know what will be needed for Sunday service. After they set up, there is bible study in preparation for the Sunday service.

Baker will tell you, this is not the Sunday service in the traditional sense. This is the service of being the hands and feet of God.

Everything she gathers through the week and especially on Saturday, is used to serve over 300 homeless. This service has occurred every Sunday since 2016.

It’s an all-volunteer army from all walks of life made up of people who started showing up every Sunday on Williams Street in downtown Knoxville to give free haircuts, clothing, and hot meals to the 300-plus who will line up along the fence, long before the gates open to receive them 

Baker is a hair dresser and instructor by trade and owns LaRue Salon in West Knoxville. Her 40 years of experience and connections in the beauty industry has helped her with her God given purpose to help restore dignity and life to those less fortunate.

On Sundays, hairdressers from across the city and even Tennessee School of Beauty show up to cut hair and groom those who sit in their chair. They listen, encourage, and uplift their clients with love and compassion. They are happy to serve and it shows; week after week, year after year, and that’s just the beginning of what happens in the warehouses and tents on Sunday morning service.

Care Cuts also helps with recovery, housing, and medical needs. They also offer a portable shower system so people can get clean and receive fresh clothing. That’s on Sunday.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are now resource days. People can come and speak to organizations that can help them get back on their feet. Marti, as they call her, works tirelessly to find sponsors to get people back home to their families, and sponsors for those wanting to go into recovery. Baker has been known to ride to the hospital with those that come to Care Cuts sick or injured and stay with them till emergency care and housing has been established.

Blessed to be a blessing, Baker is known as an advocate for the homeless saying, “We have got to do better to help the homeless with hope and dignity so they can move forward with their lives.”