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Communication Studies


Locks of Love helps children with hair loss

By Shanna Thompson
Capital Campus News
October 31, 2004

Fourteen-year-old Rachel Sydow sits patiently with her mother, waiting for her long, braided, brown hair to be cut to her shoulders.

Sydow is donating her hair for the second time to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces to children under the age of 18 who suffer from hair loss.

Sydow said she and her mother, Dainey, first heard about the program offered by Supercuts when a friend of the family lost all of her hair from chemotherapy.

“I remember how hard it was for her to have to shave her head,” Sydow said.

Two years ago Sydow gave Supercuts 12 inches and this year she will donate 12-14 inches more.

Susan Stone, executive director of Locks of Love, said the organization helps children with any kind of hair loss –– from cancer, burns, dog mauling and other injuries, brain tumors, and skin diseases.

“It’s all emotionally challenging. Even though a lot of times it’s not life threatening, it’s very emotional for the kids,” Stone said.

They currently have approximately 10,000 participating hair salons, according to Amy Weeks, the organization's volunteer coordinator. She said they also have locations from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and California.

When Locks of Love receives hair donations, the manufacturer hand assembles each piece, which takes approximately four months and costs about $1,000 per wig. Locks of Love also provides free hairpieces to children, which often cost at least $3,000.

Hair is accepted from men and women of all ages and races but has to be a minimum of 10" from base of the ponytail to tip and cannot be chemically damaged, Stone said.

“We get about 2,000 (donations) a week and unfortunately a lot of it is unusable,” Stone said.

She said the hair is often damaged, too short, mis-packaged from getting tangled from throwing the hair in a bag.

"Sometimes we get beard hair and we can’t use that," she said, "but we appreciate everyone’s effort and acknowledge their donation.” she said. The unusable hair is sold for other uses, Stone said.

Dawn Shell, manager of Great Clips in Antelope, said she there's no better way to help children than to give hair to Locks of Love.

“I think it’s a great cause," Shell said. "I’ve done it and my daughter has done it.” She said she also gives customers suggestions to donate their hair to if it’s long.

While some hair salons have ongoing events for customers to come in and get their hair cut for free, other hair salons throw together one-day events to raise money for Locks of Love.

“We had a whole day event where our stylists were on their feet and, of course, customers had to give up their locks,” Doug Wester said, manager of Ulta hair salon in Sacramento. The Ulta location in Roseville also participates.

Supercuts manager in Roseville, Sharlene Tullgren said they will donate any haircut with any style, no matter how long the hair or how long it takes to cut it and style it.

She said she gets about four or five donations a month. Tullgren said that Supercuts nationwide are helping.

She said Supercuts has been participating "to give back to the community and help those in need."

“We just donate the hair,” she said. The postage and packaging is provided by the organization.

Karen Crumley, a bookkeeper at the franchise office, said Supercuts averages about 150 to 200 donations per month.

“We’re in the hair industry and there are so many cancer patients, we wanted to contribute," Crumley said. "It’s a worthwhile cause.”

Famous people, including Lisa Ling, co-host of The View, and Miss Florida Teen USA 2001, Johanna Maria Candelariad, donated their hair to Locks of Love.

“We just had a little girl go to ER and the nurse was taking her information,” Stone said. “The little girl said to the nurse ‘I have Alapacia’ and the nurse said ‘no you don’t’,” shocked at how real the wig looked on the child," Stone said.

" That’s why we're here," she said.