Galaxy Hair Salon opened its doors for an extra day this week.

On Sunday, the salon hosted “Clip ‘n Go,” a cut-a-thon to raise money for Columbus House, Inc., one of New Haven’s oldest homeless shelter organizations. Stylists from five other salons in the New Haven area joined the Galaxy staff to volunteer for the event.

Haircuts were $25 each — $10 cheaper than normal cost — and all proceeds went to Columbus House, Inc. The event was part of National Homeless and Hunger Month, which includes a series of fundraisers across the nation.

As customers walked into the small salon room at 168 York Street, friendly Galaxy staff members greeted them with blue Columbus House balloons and upbeat music. Alison Cunningham, executive director for Columbus House, Inc., was also present to welcome people and promote the event.

“Unfortunately I don’t think [National Homeless and Hunger Month] has captured a lot of attention historically,” Cunningham said.

She said Columbus House first began in the early 1980s, when a group of people sought city and state support for the growing problem of homelessness in the greater New Haven area. The first Columbus House shelter opened in 1982, with a capacity of 52, Cunningham said.

After 20 years of renting space in the abandoned convent of Sacred Heart Parish on Columbus Avenue, the organization finally acquired a permanent home of its own at 586 Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. This move was a major step for the organization.

The mission of Columbus House has changed since its inception in the 1980s. Cunningham said when the original Columbus House opened, its organizers focused on the immediate need for shelter above all else. However, the organization has expanded to offer case management services to people who stay longer than just a few nights. The average person in this “Length of Stay” program lives at the house for 120 days.

“When people come to us and identify their needs, we try to connect them with whatever services are going to help them,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said homelessness is on the rise today, and she emphasized the need to educate residents and politicians alike about this growing problem. In 2001, she said, the number of people turned away from Connecticut shelters increased 81 percent from 2000.

“That’s obscene,” she said.

Kathy O’Boyle, an event planner for Special Event Management, first thought of the idea for Sunday’s cut-a-thon. She planned “Clip ‘n Go” for about two months, and appreciated the support from local businesses.

Nino Ribeiro, the founder and owner of Galaxy Hair Salon, joined his stylists to cut hair on Sunday. Ribeiro said the salon used to host an annual cut-a-thon to benefit AIDS Project New Haven.

Sarah Hirschhorn ’03 learned about the cut-a-thon from a Dwight Hall e-mail, and came in Sunday to get her hair cut. She said she thought it was a great idea and needed to get her hair done anyway.

More than 50 people had their hair cut at Galaxy yesterday and O’Boyle estimated they raised over $2500 for Columbus House.