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Out of tough times comes attractive idea

Complimentary makeovers at The Bon-Ton given today to five needy, deserving women.

Christina Freeman knows what it’s like to have a tough life.

That’s why the manager at the salon in The Bon-Ton store in the Wyoming Valley Mall devised a contest to give away a makeover to someone who needs and deserves it. Her plan was to have people write a letter explaining why they, or someone they nominated, should get a free makeover. Freeman then planned to pick the best one and give them a day of salon services.

The overwhelming response led her to expand the contest, and today five women will receive complimentary services that will take about two hours each and that normally cost $150 to $200.

“I’ve been there. I’ve been in a time when I didn’t have anything. All I want to do is make someone pretty for a day,” Freeman said. “With today’s economy, people can’t afford to get their hair done or buy nice things. I wanted to help someone who needed it most. Like a person who can’t afford to look nice for a job interview, someone who could never afford to be in a salon, people like that.”

The contest began in early March when Freeman posted a bulletin on craigslist, the online classified service, even before she ran it by her boss. “I just posted it. Then, when I got a response, I asked my boss,” Freeman said.

Within an hour she had 14 responses from local people writing in about battles with cancer, struggles to find work and even a recent run-in with disgraced judge Mark Ciavarella. The plan calling for giving away only one makeover soon changed.

“After sitting down and reading all of the replies, I didn’t have the heart to pick just one,” Freeman said. She then persuaded her boss to add four more free makeovers to the list.

“My boss had to talk to corporate to get the OK for it,” she said. If he said no, she was ready to do – and pay for – the makeovers herself.

“I wasn’t going to give up on these people. If I had to, I would have done this at my own church. It was going to happen no matter what,” she said.

After a week, the managers in the corporate office agreed to go along with the expansion.

“I tried calling around to get these people more, something like a limo ride, but not many companies have been helpful,” Freeman said. “However, McCarthy Flowers has been great.”

Master stylists Jennifer Thomas and Ashley Laskowski will be giving the makeovers along with Freeman.

“I’m a cancer survivor, I’ve been through an abusive marriage, and I know what it’s like. I’m so happy to do my part,” Thomas said. She’s been working at the salon for almost two years and said this isn’t the first time she’s seen Freeman’s generosity on display. “She’s willing to do anything for anybody. Around here we are one big family. It’s so down to earth. We know what it’s like to have a hard life. We’re real people, too,” Thomas said.

Freeman said “Most people don’t realize what life is about. The best part of my job is seeing the smile on my customer’s face, knowing they are satisfied. This is about people coming together. I wish other businesses would help people out … a lot of people need it right now.”

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