KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you ever meet Fred Dantzler, barber and owner of Officially Chopped, you won't forget it.
His presence, voice and energy are all larger than life. The only thing bigger is his commitment to Feed KC.
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“I was like, 'Man, one day I'm gonna have my own shop, and I'm gonna kind of change the narrative,'" Dantzler said. "That was in 2018, 2019. I got opened my first shop, and I was like, 'Hey man, it's Thanksgiving. We're gonna change it up a little bit,' and so we started this food drive."
Fast forward to 2023, and his team went from feeding 15 families to 150 this coming Sunday.
“We're gonna buy the turkeys, cake mix, the butter, eggs — everything that they need to cook meals at home for their families," he said. “You can’t just have turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans and just think that's a meal. Now you gotta add the yams, some green bean casserole, even though I don't eat green bean casserole."
Every barber, braider and stylist at "The Chop Shop" is taking part. There's even a friendly competition that gives whoever brings in the most turkeys free booth rent for the week.
Dantzler took his annual food drive a step further this year, sending a simple text to every client scheduled with him the week before Thanksgiving that read, "No turkey, no cut."
He's sacrificing his salary to bring in more donations for local families.
"I was not cutting no hair if you didn't walk in with that bird and not a Cornish hen," he said. "I want them big birds."
One of his clients, Jonathan Rios, told KSHB 41's Dia Wall he wasn't sure if Dantzler was serious or not but came prepared.
“I thought it was just amazing," Rios said. "I didn't think it was real, and so I was like sure, I want to make sure that I'm here.”
He donated three turkeys and two hams for the Feed KC drive.
Christian Buckner, a friend of Dantzler and a fellow small business owner, even got involved.
“A couple days ago, I'm posting on my social media like, 'Hey, guys, we need 133 gallons of Hawaiian Punch. Cash App me or go get it yourself, whatever, and my Cash App blows up,'" he smiled. “I went and got all 133 in my two-door car and put them all in here, which, I mean, is so good.”
Donations were still coming through the door the entire time Wall was in the shop, from people Dantzler knew and some that he didn't. Still, he said there's work to do.
“We want to make sure they got seconds and we don’t just give them one scoop, right? They have three and four of those things on there," he said.
In terms of the items still needed, the list isn't too long:
- Tony Chachere's Injectable Marinades
- Vegetable oil
- Brown sugar
- Cake frosting
In addition, all four of the deep freezers at Officially Chopped are filled to the brim with turkeys and hams.
If any business or individual has a spare deep freezer, the Feed KC crew would love to borrow it for the week.
Those interested in donating can drop donations off at 12121 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, Kansas, 66216.
The big food distribution event is Sunday, and Dantzler can't wait.
He looked at Wall and simply said, "It's cool to see everybody come together, and I constantly remind them that Feed KC is bigger than Fred. It’s bigger than Officially Chopped. This is to help people ... [who] really need that right now because we've all been in a position where we needed some help, and I know I have.”