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Donating hair to Locks of Love becomes a popular choice for area youth

Recently, area children have been making important decisions when it comes to choosing a hairstyle.
In the past month, four area girls chose to donate their hair to the charity, Locks of Love.
Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children, under age 18, suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
The organization uses donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics.
April Taylor, 11, a student at Bellwood-Antis Middle School, visited Paula Glunt, hair stylist and owner of Hair Designs by Paula in Bellwood earlier this summer. There she had 12 inches cut off her hair, which she chose to donate to Locks of Love.
Not long after, Sarah Blessing, daughter of Mike and Deb Blessing of Grantville, sent word to her grandparents, Carl and Sharlene White of Tyrone, that she recently donated 12 inches of her hair to the organization.
Hairdresser Kristy Jackson of the Beauty Salon in Tyrone, cut Emily Romano’s hair on July 19. Emily, daughter of Becki and John Romano, also chose to donate the 12 inches to Locks of Love.
Also, the staff and clients at Altoona Beauty School stopped to watch as Ieshya Carroll, seven, donated 14 inches of her hair to Locks of Love. Her hair was cut by Mandy Kensinger, a student at Altoona Beauty School. According to her mother, the difference was quite a shock for Ieshya at first, but she soon realized the importance of her decision and how proud her family was.
It is really becoming a common idea for area youth, but it doesn’t have to be limited to children. Adults can also donate their hair to the organization.
According to the Locks of Love website, “most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.”
Locks of Love was first started in connection with a for profit wig making company. Eventually, the organization installed a volunteer Board of Directors and the charity separated from the profiting company to begin operations on its own.
Locks of Love was spearheaded by a retired cardiac nurse, Madonna Coffman, who developed alopecia after receiving a hepatitis vaccination in her 20s.
With medications, Coffman recovered, but fifteen years later, her four-year-old daughter developed alopecia and lost all of her hair.
Over the years, Locks of Love has become a very mainstream idea and has been featured in many magazines and television shows. Over 2,000 hair donations are received through the mail each week, with 80 percent of hair donors being children.
The number of hairpieces produced has also increased significantly over the years.
Initially the charity created 21 hair pieces during the first year. Today, over 1,000 hair pieces are created with recipients in all 50 states and Canada.
It is noted at www.locksoflove.org, “We need hair from men and women, young and old, all colors and races.”
For individuals interested in donating to Locks of Love, there are several guidelines to be aware of.
Locks of Love accepts 10 inches minimum hair length, from tip to tip. Wigs, falls and synthetic hair is not accepted.
Hair needs to be bundled into a ponytail or braid. It needs to be clean and dry, then placed in a plastic bag and padded envelope.
Hair may be colored or permed, but not bleached or chemically damaged. Locks of Love suggests checking with a stylist if individuals are unsure about damaged hair.
Curly hair may be pulled straight to measure the minimum 10 inches.
Anyone can cut participants’ hair, as long as the guidelines are followed. Hair swept off the floor is not usable but hair that was cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail.
Interested individuals can find more information on the web at www.locksoflove.org. The organization is also in need of monetary donations and volunteers, as well as hair donations.
Looking for another way to help? Visit the organization’s website to learn how to purchase “Curly” the Locks of Love bear. Ten percent of all purchases go directly to Locks of Love. Anyone with questions can email info@locksoflove.org or call 1-888-896-1588.