The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

May 1, 2013

Students reach out with (locks of) love

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

ANSTED — Share your hair and show you care. That’s the call that students at Ansted Middle School are putting out to their community as they launch their first annual Locks of Love Hair Donation event.

On May 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can get a free hair cut at the school while at the same time giving back to children across the country who, for a variety of reasons, have lost their own hair.

“This is a great cause and a huge undertaking that the students have chosen to take on,” said Samantha Gerwig, a math and social studies teacher at Ansted Middle and the teacher sponsor of the student council.

The idea originated with last year’s council but the plan was put into motion by the current group of students, who are doing most of the organizing work for the event.

“This is all their event,” says Gerwig. “I’ve been there to guide them, but the students were responsible for getting beauticians, getting advertising, passing out fliers, handling the traffic, making signs, and writing out certificates,” said Gerwig.

The students wanted to find a way to give back to the community and also help out children of the same age as themselves.

“Different students have talked about it. A lot have family members who have had cancer and had to wear wigs.

So they were really into the idea of how can we help them even though we’re just kids?” says Gerwig.

Participants can donate hair or provide monetary donations at the event.

Hair donations must consist of at least 10 inches of unbleached hair. It can be permed or dyed.

Volunteers from the community will be matched with one of nine volunteer beauticians from the local area who will do the cut. Participants will receive a photo of themselves with their hair, along with a certificate.

Gerwig says some students, teachers and staff have already decided to donate that day.

Locks of Love is a national nonprofit that provides custom hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada who suffer from long-term medical hair loss related to any diagnosis.

The program’s mission is to “return a sense of self, confidence, and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children.”

The recipients are given the hair pieces free of charge or on a sliding scale. Many have lost their hair due to alopecia areata, a hair loss condition thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which heredity may be a factor.

“The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers,” according to the group's website.

Children comprise about 80 percent of the donors, according to the group.

Gerwig says that people who have already cut their hair or who can’t make it to Ansted on Saturday can still participate. They can drop off ponytails at the school or contact Gerwig to make arrangements to get their hair into the shipment to Locks of Love.

“Our hair grows back and it’s something we take for granted every day, but there are a lot of others who don’t have it. This is just a great way to help them out,” said Gerwig.

For more information about the Ansted event, contact Gerwig at 304-658-5170.

For more information about Locks of Love, visit www.locksoflove.org.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com