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5. Free haircut
Free haircut

In St. Petersburg, Fla., a metropolitan area with an 11 % unemployment rate, salon owner Albie Mulcahy decided to give job-seekers a confidence boost. "If you look good, you'll create a positive image on interviews," Mulcahy says. So at his Velvet Salon, Mulcahy offered free a cut and style to 150 unemployed individuals on one August weekend.

Why did he do it? "I'm in the personal service business," Mulcahy says -- and he was sympathetic to clients' stories of job loss. Hair Cares, a nonprofit organization founded by stylist Maurice Tidy, inspired the free cut day. Hair Cares has coordinated 20 similar events around the country.

"They've been good to me," Mulcahy says of his regulars. "This was something I could do for the community."

Those who showed up heard about the event through local blogs and news. Some grateful clients were so overwhelmed with emotion, they cried in the stylists' chairs.

TV news crews filmed Mulcahy and his staff working and interviewed participants. The positive press was a pleasant benefit, Mulcahy says. The coverage drew in new customers, who mentioned they'd seen the story on TV.

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