Having gone without a haircut for five years, Kristina Tobey was understandably skittish as her freshly separated locks were taken away.
“I was watching everything, thinking how long (my hair) would be when it was done,” she said. Or, perhaps, how short it would be, since more than 10 inches were being removed.
Yet due to the cause being served, Kristina said she was happy to take this brave step. She and three fellow students, along with a parent and a teacher, were the focal points of a rather unique assembly on March 19 in the gymnasium of Corning’s All Saints Academy. There, they had their hair cut to support Locks of Love, a nonprofit group that provides hairpieces to children who have experienced hair loss due to medical reasons.
The local effort had originated via its two youngest participants, kindergartners Madeline Burns and Kayleigh Broderick. Madeline learned about Locks of Love from her mother, Lisa, and Kayleigh became intrigued by family members’ previous participation in the cause.
“It kind of took off from there,” said Kayleigh’s mother, Kathy, a music and computer-technology teacher at All Saints. She served as a co-organizer of the event along with Madeline’s mother and Principal Rose Ann Ewanyk.
Madeline and Kayleigh were joined for the assembly by Kristina, a fourth-grader; Jackie Sanchez, a fifth-grader; Barbara Nazarczyk, a parent of two All Saints students; and Kristin Meeker, a kindergarten teacher. Hairdressers from three local shops — AJ’s Hair & Make-up, All the Rave and Robert’s Hair Stylists — did the honors. By the time their scissors stopped snipping, more than 5 feet of hair had been collected.
These donations were shipped March 24 to Locks of Love, which is based in Lake Worth, Fla. The organization in turn creates hairpieces so that their young recipients can restore self-esteem and confidence in the wake of long-term hair loss. The two most common causes of hair loss among people served by the organization are cancer and alopecia areata, a disease that causes hair follicles to shut down and has no known cause or cure.
“I did it for other people who can’t grow hair,” said Madeline, who hadn’t had a full haircut since she was less than 3 years old.
Madeline said she didn’t experience any nervousness at the assembly, whereas Kristina said that being among five people going through the same experience “made me less nervous.” She added that it didn’t take her long to adjust to her new, much shorter hairstyle.
“It looks good,” Kristina concluded.
Lisa Burns said that All Saints Academy hopes to stage more Locks of Love events next year and beyond. She noted, for instance, that one student, Ashley Brown, had wished to participate on March 19 but her hair was just short of the minimum required length and instead is “going to keep growing it and do it in the future.” Meanwhile, Kathy Broderick said her daughter wanted to take part again next year until learning that her hair was unlikely to grow another 10 inches by then.
According to Burns, a few hundred dollars were raised for Locks of Love as a result of the hair-cutting assembly. She observed that a particularly nice aspect of this initiative is the concept of children helping children: More than 80 percent of all Locks of Love donors are youths, and all its recipients are under the age of 18.
“We are extremely encouraged by the number of children that responded to the call,” Burns said, adding that this project of caring and sharing epitomizes the “spirit and focus of All Saints Academy.”
“It was so nice, it was just such a blessing to have everyone step in and say they wanted to do something for all the people less fortunate,” Broderick added. “Everybody was just so excited about it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: More information about Locks of Love is available by visiting www.locksoflove.org.