You never quite know when inspiration will hit you. For me, it came last weekend as I scrolled through Facebook on my phone while waiting for my shower to heat up (gotta stay connected, you know). A friend and fellow Fairfax mother posted a photo of her 5th grade daughter chopping off her long blond locks to donate to be made into wigs. This girl happened to be in Ms. Glasier’s 4th grade class last year when she shaved her head for St. Baldrick’s and I have no doubt that her heroic act was inspired at least in part by the heroic act of her teacher.
Which got me thinking . . . I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone who might be willing to shave their head this year. Nor do I wish to discount the significance of a truly bald head, which is, indeed, significant. But, I also know there are a lot of girls and young women whose friends and brothers shave and who come to the event and wish there was a way for them to get involved, but who just aren’t ready to go all the way. I get that. I too have toyed with the idea of shaving — every March 18, I am convinced I’ll do it the next year, but as those 364 days dwindle away, so too does my willingness to shave.
So, I think I’m going to set up a station at our March 10 event for girls to sign up for major haircuts. They can register online at St . Baldrick’s just like the boys do, but instead of saying they’re shavees, they’d be listed as volunteers. Then on their homepage, they could describe what they’re doing, which organization they’ll donate their hair to and request contributions from their friends and families for St. Baldrick’s. Everyone benefits: St. Baldrick’s raises more necessary funds for research into childhood cancers, people who need free wigs, get them and the girls themselves feel empowered and engaged.
First, I’ll need to make sure this is okay with St. Baldrick’s, because I don’t want to dilute the impact of those who are actually going bald. I don’t really think it would and I certainly encourage anyone who might be even considering the full shave to really seriously consider it. But we’re talking about people who most likely would remain on the sidelines if this option wasn’t available. Then I need to check in with my barbers to make sure one or two can dedicate a bit more time to actually giving real haircuts as opposed to just the quick buzz. And then, perhaps most importantly, we’d have to figure out who to donate hair to.
This is a trickier issue than I at first thought. I’ve done a bit of research and am surprised at what I found. Locks of Love, the best known of these organizations, will accept 10 inches of hair, which is more realistic than Wigs for Kids, which requires 12 inches. However (and this is a pretty big however), Locks of Love only makes wigs for children, teens and young adults with long term hair loss. Now, that hair loss could be due to radiation for brain tumors, but is mostly caused by alopecia or scalp burns. A worthy cause, no doubt, but this does not include the kids with cancer that St. Baldrick’s is dedicated to keeping alive. Wigs for Kids does make wigs for children with temporary hair loss due to chemotherapy (but again, they need 12 inches). There’s another group, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, run by the shampoo company, that accepts just 8 inches of hair to make wigs for cancer patients, but from what I gather it’s mostly for grown women.
There’s nothing wrong with any of those efforts, of course. I’m all for women getting wigs and, obviously, those with permanent hair loss would be more likely to want wigs than those with temporary hair loss. But I do want whatever I offer to be appropriately aligned with childhood cancer patients. Hmmmm, thoughts welcome. Let me know if your daughters (or you) might consider participating in this way. And then, let me know if you have an opinion or preference regarding which organization to select. Actually, this is silly. Each individual donor could choose their own organization depending in large part of how much hair they have to give. We can have the envelopes and donation forms from each group at our event and each girl could decide in that moment. And the money they’d be raising ahead of time would be for St. Baldrick’s so it wouldn’t really matter where the hair went.
Alright, that was easy! Our event is now live online and although I haven’t personalized our page yet, it’s not too early to register. I know a lot of the kids who shaved last year generated interest among their friends and classmates, so I’m hoping this year that more of our local schools will form their own teams. Braedan and Austin will serve as co-captains of Team Fairfax . . . which I can tell you now is the team to beat!