Cutting hair for charity
â€œAre you ready?â€ Elsa Wolf asked, gripping the scissors firmly in her right hand.
â€œI guess so,â€ Carly Blau replied with a nervous grin and both legs shaking.
Just moments before, Blau had signed away one of her most prized possessions in the name of charity. With the pen clenched tightly in her hand as if learning to write for the first time, Blau donated 10 inches of her hair to a child that she will never meet, through the organization Locks of Love.
Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization, began in 1998. It provides recipients with a custom, vacuum-fitted hairpiece made from donated human hair. Most recipients are financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Because of the organization, over 2,000 children have been helped since its first year of operation.
With the good cause in mind, but still a bit nervous, Blau sat firmly and stiffly in a classroom chair in the Free Speech area of campus, closed her eyes, winced her face and gripped her sunglasses in both hands as if awaiting a lethal injection.
Wolf draped the cape over Blauâ€™s shoulders and braided the soon-to-be chopped off locks. The scissors came out. Blauâ€™s eyes closed as she flashed one more nervous smile. On-lookers strolled slowly by, taking the whole event in while silently praising the brave girl in the chair with the scissors coming at her long brown hair.
Four chops later, the scissors had done their job. Wolf laid the freshly extracted braid on the table holding at least a dozen others, then grabbed a camera to take a commemorative picture of Blauâ€™s new trendy bob.
Blau stood up and grabbed the ends of her hair to feel the new length.
â€œI can still put it in a ponytail,â€ Blau, 22, declared with delight.
The smile on Blauâ€™s face was no longer nervous and the light in her eyes proudly told the world, â€œI just did a really good thing.â€
â€œI was going to cut my hair anyway,â€ Blau said. â€œI heard about this on TV today and decided to come here and do it before class. Itâ€™s for a good cause and I would rather give the hair to someone that needs it rather than throw it away.â€
As Blau picked up her backpack and headed off to class, victim number two sat down in the chair.
Only, there was something different about this new girl. She had an air of confidence. The look of a veteran. The eyes of a professional. Branda Place, 23, had clearly done this before.
â€œCut to wherever my shoulders are,â€ Place said as Wolf grabbed the measuring stick.
â€œThatâ€™s 14 inches,â€ Wolf said softly, with a scared look in her eyes that hinted at uncertainty in her ability to cut that much hair off someoneâ€™s head.
â€œIâ€™m not nervous,â€ Place said as she thought of the new style she would get later when she went to an actual salon. â€œIâ€™ve been growing my hair for two years. I knew I was going to do this. I just wasnâ€™t sure how short I was going to go.â€
The cape is draped again. The braid. The scissors. The on-lookers.
One passerby yelled out, â€œYouâ€™re brave, girl! Thatâ€™s for a good cause!â€
Place shoots a confident smile at her 4-year-old son Michael, who is standing in front of her chanting, â€œMama!â€
The braid is so thick, it takes a while to cut. Everyoneâ€™s heart is pounding.
And then it is done. Wolf holds the braid up in the air, as if claiming victory over a fierce opponent.
â€œIt feels weird,â€ Place said as she grabbed the back of her hair. â€œItâ€™s gone! But I am happy. Iâ€™ll do it again when it grows back.â€
As the booth clears out, Wolf, a 22-year-old management major volunteering for Locks of Love for a class project, sits down as if exhausted.
â€œIâ€™m a donor myself,â€ Wolf said, knowing all the emotions that go with cutting hair â€“â€“ including knowing the good that it does for financially disadvantaged children who will be given hope in place of devastation from long-term medical hair loss.
Kristy Vasquez, a 25-year-old business management major, helped Wolf in the two-day charity event.
â€œI donated 10 inches yesterday,â€ Vasquez said. â€œThere was no special reason. I planned on cutting my hair anyway and thought this was a good opportunity to participate.â€
As victim number three sat down, Wolf and Vasquez prepared themselves again.
â€œI can hear the crunching of the scissors,â€ Vasquez said. â€œI hold my breath. I feel some of their pain.â€
Want to donate your hair for the cause?
Here are the guidelines:
â€¢ Hair must be at least 10 inches in length
â€¢ Hair must be bundled in a ponytail or braid
â€¢ Bleached hair cannot be used, but dyed or permed hair is acceptable
â€¢Hair can also be mailed to Locks of Love â€“ 2925 10th Avenue North, Ste 102 â€“ Lake Worth, FL 33461-3099
â€¢ Monetary donations to Locks of Love are tax deductible
â€¢ For more information, call (561) 963-1677 or 1-888-896-1588
â€¢ E-mail: Volunteer@LocksofLove.org