Student shears her locks for love

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Claire Wright begins the sixth grade at John Yeates Middle School this fall and she’s going to surprise a few of her classmates since she made an unusual sacrifice on Tuesday. Claire had her 36-inch ponytail cut off to help children with brain cancer and other medically related hair loss.

Claire said she learned of the &uot;Locks of Love&uot; program last year. She looked it up at because one of her friends, 10-year-old Lindsey Debman, died last year from a brain cancer she’d lived with since age 2. Over the years, Lindsey suffered hair loss due to medication and health problems.

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&uot;Lindsey had to have so many surgeries and she sometimes didn’t have enough hair,&uot; said Claire. &uot;I found out about Locks of Love, and they take pony tails that people cut off and send to them and make wigs for the children with cancer and other medical problems.&uot;

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under 18, suffering long-term medical hair loss. It takes nine ponytails of at least 10 inches in length to create a hairpiece, and they are provided to the children to help restore their confidence and self-esteem.

&uot;I decided to cut my hair so that some children wouldn’t feel bad about their hair,&uot; said Claire. &uot;I haven’t had it cut since I was 2 years old.&uot;

Claire was understandably anxious about cutting her hair once Hair Stylist Leroyce Nixon took her shears out of the drawer.

&uot;My daughter had a close friend who lost her hair,&uot; said Nixon. &uot;With children who have lost their hair… well, this is a wonderful program because if you can feel good about yourself, that’s half the battle.&uot;

Nixon has been cutting the Wright family’s hair since Bobbie Wright, Claire’s mom, was pregnant with her.

Wright said that Locks of Love, located in Florida, receives about 3,000 ponytails a week from girls like Claire.

When Nixon made the first attempt to cut Claire’s hair, she found that the small scissors were just not doing the job. Claire’s hair was so thick; she had to take up another pair of shears to complete the three minute procedure.

&uot;Her hair is so thick,&uot; said Nixon who has had a beauty shop in her home for 30 years. &uot;She has more than enough to give away to help another child like her friend.&uot;

Claire also had ideas about helping out other children. When Nixon handed her the long ponytail bound by elastic bands, she held it up and looked wistfully at her long locks of blond hair.

&uot;I’m going to let it grow out and give it away again,&uot; she said. &uot;I would like to meet other girls with long hair that can cut theirs and send it to Locks of Love. My friends all made me hold it up before I cut it so they could see how much it would be cut. I’m glad I did it and I wish more girls could do it to help the other children.&uot;

The Locks of Love organization, which began in 1997, has helped over 1000 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 receives in newspapers, magazines and television programs.

Donations continue to pour in from people like Claire, and 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.

LOL has been featured or mentioned on television shows like Oprah, 20/20, The View, Jay Leno, Maury Povich, Good Morning America, CBS Good Morning, CNN Espanol and Inside Edition and in national publications including USA Today, The NY Times, People, Seventeen, Glamour, CosmoGirl, Self, Redbook, Woman’s Day, ElleGirl, Child Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. Over 2,000 hair donations are received through the mail each week.

Locks of Love accepts a 10-inch minimum hair length (tip to tip), not wigs, falls or synthetic hair

Please bundle hair in ponytail or braid.

Hair needs to be clean, dry, placed in a plastic bag, then padded envelope.

Hair is needed from men and women, young and old, all colors and races.

Hair may be colored or permed, but not bleached or chemically damaged (if unsure, ask your stylist).

Hair swept off the floor is not usable.

Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail.

Hair that is short, gray, or unsuitable for children will be separated from the ponytails and sold at fair market value to offset the cost of manufacturing.

You may pull curly hair straight to measure the minimum 10 inches.

The majority of all hair donated comes from children who wish to help other children.

Layered hair may be divided into multiple ponytails for donation.

For more details, go to www.