By Meghan Bobrowsky,
Kellie Palmer tied the hair in a ponytail, picked up the sharp scissors and snipped across the gathered hair in one swift movement.
It fell onto the floor. Palmer picked it up and carefully put it in a Ziploc bag.
The bag was then placed in an envelope and labeled “To: Locks of Love, 234 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, Fl 33405”.
Palmer then mailed it from her downtown salon.
Locks of Love is a “public non-profit organization that provides hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States under age 21 suffering from long term medical hair loss,” according to its website.
“Some stylists are more motivated to help than others, while some don’t pay attention at all,” Palmer said.
The disease that has brought in the most applicants for hair pieces is Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes the hair follicles to stop reproducing. There are approximately 4.7 million people suffering from Alopecia in the United States alone, and no cure has been discovered.
Patients with cancer are also in need of hair pieces. Nearly 2,200 children are diagnosed with brain tumors every year.
In an effort to exterminate and eliminate the tumors, radiation treatment and chemotherapy are applied. As a result, patients lose their hair.
Since it takes six to ten ponytail donations to make one hair piece, every donation is appreciated and acknowledged with a “thank you” certificate via mail.
“It felt really good to be helping someone by simply cutting my hair,” junior Jessie Green said. She cut her hair the day before sixth grade and donated 14 inches.
“They even sent me a postcard a few months later to thank me; I thought that was really cool,” Green said.
The minimum required length to donate is ten inches. If someone sends in hair that cannot be used, the organization will sell it to offset the cost of making the hair pieces. This helps tremendously because the retail price for one piece can be up to $6,000.
Some, like junior Elise Chu, have donated multiple times. Chu has sent in hair three times in the past six years.
“I like my hair long, but I dislike cutting off six inches and having it go to waste,” Chu said.
She started the tradition in the middle of fifth grade when she donated ten inches. Three years later, Chu had grown enough hair to donate ten inches yet again.
Her most recent donation was in early July.
Sophomore Brittney Mott has only donated once.
“I was already cutting my hair, so I figured why not give it to someone who can benefit,” Mott said.
There are other organizations similar to Locks of Love that share the same objective, such as
Pantene Beautiful Lengths. However, this organization only require eight inches and focuses mostly on adult women battling cancer.
Junior Nina Shields donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
“I did it because I had wanted to cut my hair short for a while; and I thought it would be really cool to donate it to women with cancer. So I just waited until it was long enough,” Shields said.