By Brendan Burke 
QUINTE WEST – A local makeup artist and hair stylist is leading a campaign of kindness with the help of Salvation Army Belleville Ministries .
Melissa Payton, owner of Your Day Your Way hair and bridal boutique in Quinte West, is organizing an event that will see area stylists join forces to offer free haircuts to those in need.
The upcoming StreetStylez project, set for Saturday, Feb. 20, will be held at Salvation Army Community and Family Services  at 295 Pinnacle St. Along with the courtesy cuts, complimentary, locally made pancakes and chili will be served from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Payton, who along with five other local hairdressers will provide her services free of charge, said the need for more acts of compassion inspired the campaign.
“We live in a world of not a lot of kindness,” she said.
It’s necessary to embrace the “just because” kind of kindness, she said.
“I think it’s very important to teach our children and others that it’s okay to give back without expectations.”
Local businesses have shown support for Payton’s project by heeding the call for no-strings-attached generosity. She has received donations such as gloves, socks, toothbrushes and soap from several community enterprises to be distributed at the event.
While hair care isn’t always seen as a basic necessity, Payton said, a new ‘do can go a long way.
“A fresh new cut can do a lot for the soul,” she said, adding, ” You never know what people are going through, and to help their confidence grow can be the start of something amazing.”
Noting the absence of a homeless shelter in Belleville, Payton said a significant number of residents are in need of a fresh start.
Marlene Johnston, a family services associate at Salvation Army Belleville for five years, agreed.
“We do see demand on the increase,” she said.
In 2015, the longstanding emergency food bank, served 3,995 families – 7,491 people. Of those, 417 were new to the program. The same year, the non-profit’s lunchroom served 19,545 meals.
The Salvation Army’s Warm Room  initiative – which offers a heated haven in the evenings from Nov. 15 to March 15 – is currently averaging 60 guests daily.
Payton acknowledged that the growing demand is not limited to Belleville, and said she hopes StreetStylez will be part of a larger movement.
“I would be more than thrilled if this was something that caught on throughout Ontario. Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto – local stylists from each area could get involved,” she said.
The social media-driven campaign, which has stirred support through hashtags like #bekind and #cuts4love, is expected to dole out between 50 and 100 haircuts.