Locks of Love looking for donors during this chilly holiday season

Published: Monday, December 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 30, 2008 at 11:12 p.m.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair" so it can be made into a wig for a child whose head is bare.

The Brothers Grimm created the character of Rapunzel to entertain children, and Locks of Love created its nonprofit hair donation organization for the benefit of children. Locks of Love, which is quite active in Gainesville, provides hairpieces to minors who have long-term medical hair loss.

"I think it's important for people to donate their hair to Locks of Love because it's important to do for others," said Melissa Feig, 19, a Locks of Love donor. "Not only does it help someone, but it makes the person who donates feel good about themselves in the process."

In the colder months, fewer people donate their hair to the organization.

"Summer is the busiest," said Lauren Kukkamaa, Locks of Love communications director. "People get their back-to-school haircuts."

In Gainesville, at least two salons offer a free haircut to those who donate their ponytails to Locks of Love: Supercuts, 2024 SW 34th St., and Great Clips, 3206 SW 35th Blvd.

Feig donated 10 inches of her hair.

"After I donated my hair, two of my cousins donated," Feig said. "One cousin did it twice and is growing it out in preparation of a third donation."

To date, more than 2,000 wigs have been provided to children in all 50 states and Canada since the start of the organization in 1998.

"We estimate that 80 percent of all donations are from children or young adults," Kukkamaa said.

The biggest misconception about the organization is that wigs are strictly for cancer patients. Wigs are made for children suffering from hair loss with any diagnosis, Kukkamaa said.

In fact, the majority of children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair to a medical condition called alopecia areata, an auto-immune disorder that causes hair follicles to stop working.

The cause of alopecia areata is unknown and there is no cure. Alopecia affects 4.7 million people in the United States.

Wigs provided are custom-made from six to 10 donated ponytails. Hair pieces generally retail between $3,500 and $6,000 but are provided free of charge.

There are guidelines for hair donation. Hair must be 10 inches or longer and collected in a ponytail or braid. Additionally, hair cannot be bleached. Colored and permed ponytails will be used.

Once hair is gathered and cut, donors send their contributions to Locks of Love, 234 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405.

For more information, visit the Locks of Love Web site, www.locksoflove.org. Locks of Love can also be contacted by calling 561-833-7332 or e-mailing info@locksoflove.org.

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