Local Girl Donates to Locks of Love: Taylor's Special Gift of Love

Local Girl Donates to Locks of Love: Taylor's Special Gift of Love
by Jennifer LB Leese

For the Rapunzels and Fabios among you...if you want a new look, consider donating your long tresses to Locks of Love. Doing so will provide a hairpiece for children suffering from hair loss who could not otherwise afford what would cost $3,000 or so at retail--real, human hair.
Locks of Love is a not-for-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under the age of 18 with medically reasoned hair loss. These custom-fitted hair prosthetics are provided free of charge or on a sliding scale to children whose families meet the Locks of Love Board of Directors guidelines.
Donors provide the hair; volunteers staff the office, and the manufacturer hand-assembles each piece, which requires approximately four months.
Beginning in 1997, the organization has helped over 800 children since its first year of operation. Thousands of bundles of donated hair arrive from around the country as a result of national publicity Locks of Love has received in newspapers, magazines, and television programs.
The donations continue to pour in. Many people, groups, schools, and organizations hold fundraisers and events to collect as many feet of ponytails they can. Most donors mail a note and a photo with their bundle of hair. Children comprise over 80 percent of the donors, making this a charity where children have the opportunity to help other children.
Locks of Love provides its recipients with a custom, vacuum-fitted hairpiece made entirely from donated human hair. The vacuum fit is designed for children who have experienced a total loss of scalp hair and does not require the use of tape or glue. Most of the applicants suffer from an auto-immune condition called alopecia areata, for which there is no known cause or cure. Others have suffered severe burns, or endured radiation treatment to the brain stem, in addition to many other dermatological conditions that result in permanent hair loss.
If you say "Locks of Love"--someone within earshot you will know exactly what you're talking about.
Taylor Gibney, a seven-year-old from Hickory Elementary School student, has decided to cut and donate her long, beautiful hair to Locks of Love. She's a bashful, timid little girl, who has a great big heart! Taylor knows what she wants.
"Taylor is a very kind and compassionate student. She always helps others in school so I wasn't surprised to hear that she would want to do something like this to help others," says Hickory Elementary Principal, Cathy Scuffins.
"When Taylor told me about donating her hair, I thought it was a very kind thought and I really like the way that Locks of Love teaches the children about using their own lives to help others," says Taylor's teacher, Miss Duhnam. "We [the class] talked about the charity and how it can help children who are dealing with illnesses and treatments."
Taylor heard about the organization while overhearing a conversation that involved her grandmother who was discussing a local high school student who is growing his hair out for his mother who has cancer. Taylor decided then that she wanted to do the same. When asked why, soft-spoken Taylor said, "Because I thought it was a good idea."
"I was surprised [that she'd want to cut it] because she's always been attached to her hair," said Meghan, the family's stylist at Fusion Salon (who regularly cuts 10" or longer pony tails for Locks of Love). "I think it's really awesome that a seven-year-old would cut her hair off for a donation like that."
I was there when little Taylor had her long beautiful blonde hair cut, watching and snapping pictures as she held a toothless grin. Her mood was calm. Her mind was made up. She was ready.
Meghan measured it. Pulled it into a pony tail, securing it at both ends, then gingerly eased the scissor's sharpened blades through it and cut. "Taylor only gets her hair cut once in a while," said Meghan.
Afterward, Taylor told me that she was proud of herself for going through with it. "It makes me happy," she said. This kind-hearted seven-year-old wants to donate her hair "because people with cancer don't have hair."
Locks of Love will definitely benefit from Taylor's 12" lock of love. With her donation comes a new look.
"I'm very proud because she was very excited about donating it [her hair]. She knew what it was going to," said Tiffany Stottlemyer, Taylor's mom.
Taylor had told her mom three months ago that she wanted to let her hair grow longer so she could donate it to Locks of Love. "She had no problems. She knew she wanted to donate it."
Taylor immediately shared this information with her teacher, classmates, principal, and relatives. Her classmates even made her a "Hairstyle Book"; each student drew a picture of how they think Taylor should get her hair cut. Taylor's favorite was the Mohawk.
"It means a lot because she's so young. She's more brave than I am," said Tiffany, who wrote me about her daughter's unselfish act.
Cathy Scuffins, her principal, plans to acknowledge Taylor's actions by announcing her hair cut on the morning announcements, receiving a Character Counts Random Act of Character star for the Wall of Fame, and she'll post this article on the school's bulletin board for all to see.
Taylor informed me that her friends told her that donating her hair to Locks of Love was a great idea. "A couple of them want to do it now," she said.
Taylor and her mom will be sending the ponytail in themselves because Taylor plans to draw a picture and write a letter to send along with her special gift of love.
If you're planning on going to a shorter hairstyle, please keep this story in mind! Instead of your hair being swept away and dumped into a trash can; you could donate it and make a huge difference in a young person's life.
Send donated pony tails to: Locks of Love, 2925 10th Avenue North, Suite 102
Lake Worth, FL 33461. If you have any questions call (561) 963-1677, Toll Free: (888) 896-1588 or visit www.locksoflove.com.