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Locks of Love gives charitable new look

Children who are treated for cancer are often left to suffer with long-term hair loss, unless they are able to receive locks of hair donated from willing people.

On Feb. 12, at USF’s Patio Tuesday at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, students will be arriving to donate at least 10 inches of their hair to children with cancer through the Locks of Love charity organization.

April Sager, director for Patio Tuesday, said Tribeca, a Tampa hair salon, will donate its time to give students a free haircut to those who want to donate. Sager said three students will participate, and there are three spaces available for other participants.

“We originally intended for only students, faculty and staff to participate and put others on the waiting list,” Sager said. “But now we will take anyone willing to participate.”

Sager said only six people will be able to participate because Tribeca will be spending one hour on each person’s haircut so that it can be styled, as well.

Sager said she donated her hair to Locks of Love last year because it would be used for a good purpose.

“Everyone wants to cut their hair a dramatic way once in a while,” Sager said. “I figured if you’re going to cut your hair, instead of putting it in the trash, give it to a child.”

Sager said USF registered with the Locks of Love organization last year to arrange for the locks of hair to be sent to its only office, which was established in 1997 and located in Palm Springs, Fla. And this year, USF registered for a second year, because Volunteer USF received phone calls from students wanting to donate their hair.

Cathleen Cason, executive assistant for Locks of Love, said the organization receives about 1,500 hair donations a week. Cason said a ponytail that is at least 10 inches long is counted as one donation, and it takes about 10-15 ponytails to create a hairpiece for a child.

Cason said the donations are sent to their office, and volunteers sort the hair according to a child’s request.

“Children may have a preference for brown hair or curly hair,” Cason said. “Our job is to sort the hair and send it to the manufacturer to be made.”

Before creating a hairpiece for a child it has to be fitted on a mold that fits the child’s head. Cason said the child is sent the plaster which makes the molding and a video that explains how to make it fit his or her head.

The child then sends the molding to the manufacturer in California, which attaches the hair and forms the molding so that it will fit close to the child’s head.

“The manufacturer makes it like a fitted cap and the child can swim, play sports and continue normal activities,” Cason said.

“When children lose their hair they stop participating in these activities and sometimes they are teased, when they just want to look like their friends.”

Cason said she has received many phone calls and letters from the children’s parents once the child receives his or her hairpiece.

“It’s really touching to get a letter from a parent whose child wears a hairpiece and hear how much happier that child is,” Cason said.

Anyone interested in donating hair to Locks of Love at Patio Tuesday can call April Sager at 974-5202.

  • Contact Grace Agostinat