Students, parents, principal donate hair for Locks of Love
Seventeen meet in West Seaford on last day of school

By Carol Kinsley

While the whole student body of West Seaford Elementary looked on and cheered, 17 students, parents, community members and even Dr. Todd Fishburn, the associate principal, perched on stools in the gymnasium on the last day of classes June 12 to donate their long hair to Locks of Love. The non-profit organization will use the hair to make wigs for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term hair loss due to a medical cause. "We were looking for a way for the school to give back to the community that wouldn't cost anything," explained Fishburn. "We were lucky that a teacher, Renee Clark, was in the process of donating her hair. We convinced her to do it mid-year in front of the whole school at a pep rally." From there, organizers encouraged as many as they could to participate in the year-end mass donation. Students who signed up in advance were Laura Schumacher, Iris Perez, Lise Gomez, Kristen Hollenger, Hannah Venables, Shelby Evick, Raven West and Samantha Nowlan. Emily Genshaw had already donated her hair. Two parents registered, Renee Picard and Shannon Paulson. Ruby Anderson, a member of the community, signed up, and a few others, including 24-year-old Thomas McCabe came without registering. McCabe, whose straight, black hair reached his waist, said he had always wanted to donate and had been letting his hair grow out for four years, with a semi-annual trim to take care of split ends.

Hair stylists from all across the area gave their time, and a free styling after the donated hair was lopped off. They included William Hyle of Salon Art, Bonnie Hastings of Cut'n Up, Ricki West and Cody Bowland of The Phillip Stein Salon, Suzanne Smith of Suzanne's Miracles and More, Lisa Anderson of Lisa's Shear Delight and Joyce Smith and Terry LeCates. Suzanne Smith had a special reason to donate her time. When she was 17 she had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that begins in the immune system. Given three months to live, she was treated at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore and had chemotherapy for two years. She, too, lost her hair. "Every bit of it fell out, eyelashes, everything," she said. Since then she has given back whenever she can. To give all the children an opportunity to give of themselves, before Christmas the project also collected "gently used" books, puzzles and games which were then given to those in need or added to a collection at the school used for indoor recess to teach problem solving, teamwork and social skills. Approximately 1,000 books have been given away so far. Asked if he would let his hair grow long again for another donation, Fishburn said he might, but he also would be happy to keep it short. "If there is interest," he said, the project could be repeated next year. That will depend on the students themselves. Locks of Love accepts donations at any time, shipped to Locks of Love, 234 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Guidelines posted at locksoflove.org specify that minimum length is 10 inches, but that shorter pieces will be sold to offset manufacturing costs. Hair must be in a ponytail or braid, clean and completely dry. Hair cut years ago – even 50 years ago – is acceptable if it has been stored in ponytail or braid. Colored or permed hair is acceptable, but not bleached hair. For more information, call toll-free (888) 896-1588 or email info@locksoflove.org.

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