A time to cut: Grisham plan gets salon aid

Though in the past John Grisham's public appearances have been mostly limited to book signings and festivals, raising funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina has the über-author showing up in unexpected places.

On Wednesday, October 19, Grisham and his wife Renée were on hand at the At Last salon in the Vinegar Hill Shopping Center to accept a check for $6,411 raised by a slew of area salons who gave free cuts on Sunday, October 2 in exchange for a minimum $30 donation.

In the days following the late August disaster, At Last owner Lori Wright tuned in to CNN, and "It just broke my heart," she says.

As she did following 9/11, Wright decided to cut to the heart of the matter with a "cut-a-thon." Though she initially planned to give the money to the American Red Cross, when she and her employee Jill Bennett learned John Grisham had launched his own charity, Rebuild the Coast, with a personal $5 million donation, "We thought, why not give it to his fund?" she says. "I knew the money would go directly there." (Customers had the choice between the two charities, and the cut-a-thon raised more than $1,000 for the Red Cross as well.)

Since she had remained friendly with the Grishams after cutting Renee's hair for "several" years, she called the couple, and they accepted her offer– then made an offer of their own: a personal appearance in her salon to receive the money.

While Grisham did not immediately return the Hook's call for comment, Wright says he and Renée were gracious guests.

"It was very nice to see them come down," she says. "Both were very appreciative of us raising the money. They seemed to be really happy."

Charity work seems to agree with the high-profile couple, who appeared next at the UVA amphitheater on October 23, where they helped build the wall panels for the first two of six local Habitat for Humanity homes the Rebuild the Coast fund is sponsoring.

Gena Mills (left) and Lori Wright mingle with the author.

Dillon Carter, Natalie Lowmax, and Sydnie Lowmax

Gena Mills and Lori Wright with Grisham, displaying checks from the Cut-a-thon

Faye Martin, John Grisham, and Tammy Cruey

Sisters Trish Pugh and Gena Mills of Vanity Salon flank John Grisham.

Back row, from left: Jill Bennett, Tammy Cruey, Debbie Hamm, Mela Cosse, Gena Mills, Trish Pugh Front row, from left: Faye Martin, Casey Cook, Barbara Neblett, and Lori Wright