Cutting hair for a cause

Charities turn hair donations into hairpieces

Claire Devereux, Senior Reporter

As women and girls head to the hair saloon for a new cut and they may not realize that more can be done with their excess hair than sweeping it into the trash.

Organizations such as Locks of Love accept hair donations that can be made into hairpieces for sufferers of medical hair loss who are under the age of 21.

“I gave 10 or 11 inches” freshman Alston McMillan said. “I got it cut because I wanted something different and a little change and I figured that if I was going to get a big haircut, I might as well do something good.”

The organization creates prosthetic hairpieces for children with medical hair loss from a custom made mold of the patient’s head. The hairpieces can also be customized in length, style and color.

“Our board president Madonna Coffman developed this idea when she got alopecia in her twenties and her daughter got it at age 4,” Communications Director Lilly Robbins said. “At that time, there was nothing around that offered a solution for children with hair loss.”

Creating a hairpiece can take months because everything is made to order, according to Robbins.

“The whole process takes a little over three months, creating the mold and sending the mold and hair to the manufacturer,” Robbins said.

The organization accepts hair that is a minimum of 10 inches long from tip to tip and is natural, colored, straightened or permed. All hair must be safely bundled into a ponytail, placed into a plastic bag or manila envelope and not swept off the floor.

“I thought it was cool that I was helping somebody out who lost their hair and I didn’t need the hair that badly and physically losing my hair it was like really heavy so it felt nice,” junior Caroline O’Connell said.

Hair shipped to the organization as bleached, highlighted, gray or less than 10 inches, however, will not be turned into a hairpiece and may be sold to the manufacturing company to help offset the production cost.

Some hair donors not only contribute to assist charity, but because they may have a personal connection to someone who has suffered from medical hair loss.

“The first time I donated my hair I wanted to donate in support of people who needed hairpieces,” O’Connell said. “I also did it in memory of my grandma who passed away of breast cancer.”  

Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization, also accepts financial gifts as well as hair. Donations can be be mailed to 234 Southern Blvd. West Palm Beach, FL 33405-270.