"They won't even fit on the mirror anymore."
Denise Burelli, who, with her husband, Anthony, runs the Beauty Supply Zone & Salon near Bolsa Chica Street and Heil Avenue, is proudly showing off all of the new pictures of servicemen and women. They send her their pictures because they've heard about all she does to help support the troops. In addition to the photos are American flags, statues, figurines and a red, white and blue banner that reads, "Freedom."
"We never charge an active serviceperson for a haircut," she said, "but I do ask them for a photo so we can show them off."
You may remember that I wrote about the Cut-a-Thon Burelli held last year — it garnered national attention (and raised lots of money and supplies for soldiers).
She'll be doing it again, for the fourth time, Sunday.
"I think it will be our biggest and best one ever," she said excitedly.
But when she is talking about the troops, everything she says sounds exciting, passionate and proud. She simply adores the troops and will do anything to help them.
At the upcoming event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., haircuts will be $20, provided by stylists from local salons who will volunteer their time and talent. All the money made that day will be used to buy and ship items requested by military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan through AnySoldier.com, a nonprofit organization that allows military personnel to register requests for personal items, as well as needed items for their units.
But back to the mirror, which is where most discussion leads with Burelli, and rightfully so. Like a proud mother, she points out the young men and women and tells their stories with love and honor. She points out the soldiers from Huntington Beach who have been killed, and speaks forcefully about what she thinks people should do to help.
"We can't ever forget what they are doing over there," she said. "While we live and work in this beautiful place, Huntington Beach; they are in deserts and other harsh environments fighting for us. Sending them supplies and helping them get the items they need is the least we can do.
"It's the little things they need, and Anysoldier.com is a great organization that makes it easy for us to help provide for them. It's going to be a great event, probably bigger than last year. As always, we'll have a lot of fun things happening, lots of patriotic music, giveaways, but the most important thing is raising money for the soldiers."
Burelli is hoping for a special guest this year, a 93-year-old Bataan Death March survivor who plans on speaking at the event.
"We'll be honored to have him," she said. "Having all the soldiers here for the Cut-a-Thons is always special, but this will be on another level."
I will be donating a free, signed copy of my book "Roadside Baseball" for every haircut given.
The salon is at 16377 Bolsa Chica St. The phone number is (714) 840-0159, and for additional information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.anysoldier.com. Come out, get a haircut, and you'll automatically be doing a lot to help the troops.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at email@example.com.