With few exceptions, I’ve had long hair all my life. And I’ve loved it. But when a former colleague of mine from the Chicago Sun-Times lopped off her hair for Locks of Love, it resonated.
I had long hair. There was someone else out there, a child, who could use it.
A very altruistic thought, but I didn’t realize exactly what that meant until I talked to Lauren Kukkamaa from Locks of Love.
It means that a kid gets to be a kid again.
As Kukkamaa explains, children who suffer from medical hair loss often lack self-esteem and don’t feel comfortable doing normal kid stuff.
“But any tool that can help these children feel like normal children again is certainly the goal,” Kukkamaa says. “We want kids to feel like they can go to summer camps and sleepovers, and many kids [who have lost their hair] stop doing those kinds of things.”
The wigs provided by Locks of Love are of the highest quality, using a custom-made silicon cap and more than 150,000 strands of real human hair. This allows the children to have a wig that suctions to their head, and they can wear it while running, jumping and playing.
You know, normal kid stuff.
Each hairpiece that Locks of Love provides would retail between $3,500 to $6,000, a price many of the children and their families couldn’t afford. Thus 98 percent of the kids who receive a wig from the organization get it for free. The other 2 percent receive it on a sliding scale based on what their family can afford.
But it takes between 6 to 10 donors just for one wig. So, even though I donated my 10 inches of hair, it takes several other like-minded individuals to do the same for just one wig.
Luckily, there seems to be a lot of people like 10-year-old Evanston resident Gracie Giangreco, who are also willing to clip their hair for a cause. She said one of the reasons she knew the opportunity even existed is because a lot of her friends had done it as well.
At Teddie Kossof in Northfield, where I had my hair cut, Alan Kossof said that they get anywhere from three to 10 people a week who come in to make donations.
Though Gracie says she kind of misses her long hair, she says she made the donation to help honor her grandfather who died from cancer.
So, will she do it again?
“I might,” she says. “It made me feel really good when I did it.”
Me, too, Gracie. Let’s see whose hair gets longer fastest.