The Ward Warehouse fundraiser included prizes for the longest
hair, the first haircut, and more, and featured live entertainment
from several local groups. Everyone who donated hair received
a Christmas-wrapped thank you gift with a “New You” theme.
According to Locks of Love, a custom handmade hairpiece takes
about 140,000 individual strands of hair—or 10 to 15
donated ponytails for one hairpiece. Each hairpiece takes about
four months to complete.
Locks of Love provides materials for making a plaster mold
of the child’s head, an instructional video, and a sample
of hair color. From the head mold, a silicon fit cap is produced.
The hairs are injected into a silicone base, which becomes
part of the cap. Each cap is designed for a vacuum fit that
does not require tape or glue. Children can swim, shower, and
do gymnastics with the vacuum-sealed hairpiece, which arrives
long, so that the child can style it to compliment their face.
According to Locks of Love, Rea said, about two million children
throughout the United States suffer from alopecia areata, an
autoimmune disorder that causes the hair follicles to shut
down. About 22,000 children under the age of 18 suffer from
brain tumors and require radiation treatment that causes permanent
hair loss. And other children suffer from serious burns to
the scalp that result in permanent hair loss.
The help that Locks of Love provides children goes beyond superficial
beauty,” Rea explained. “The children who suffer
from long-term or permanent hair loss also suffer from a loss
Locks of Love’s mission is to help these children
rebuild their self-esteem and regain the normalcy in their
everyday lives that the rest of us take for granted.
Hawai‘i,” Rea continued, “is the perfect
place to raise awareness about Locks of Love since so many
women here are blessed with long hair. When I cut and gave
my hair to Locks of Love, I felt so good that I was helping
restore a child’s self-confidence and providing hope
for the future.”
Along with organizing the fundraiser, which she hopes to
make an annual event, Rea also regularly visits local children’s
hospitals to encourage qualified children who need a hairpiece
to sign up with Locks of Love to receive one. “The hairpieces
are provided free or on a sliding scale, depending on the family’s
financial need,” said Rea. “An application is needed
to be a recipient and the children must be younger than 18-years-old.”
For those interested in donating, Rea explained, hair must
be a minimum of 10-inches or longer and not chemically
damaged or bleached. Dyed or permed hair is accepted. Donors
encouraged to come to the fundraisers with their hair tied
in a ponytail.
For more information about Locks of Love, future fundraisers,
and where to send donations, log on to the official Web
site at locksoflove.org.
Reenie Rea is a former Kalamalama news editor; her 2002
feature article on Honolulu’s Garbage to Energy recycling program
won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists Hawai‘i
Chapter. She is currently an intern with the Perry and Price
morning show on KSSK and works part time at STAR 101.9 radio.