It’s taken a while to get there, but I finally grew enough hair to donate! This was my first time donating, and it was exciting to hear the scissors make the big cut. (I may have even held my breath.)
I always thought it was a really cool idea and have had several friends do it, but didn’t know if I’d ever do it myself or not, simply because it would take so much time. I’m more fond of changing my hair quickly.
But once I started growing it out, my friend Nick who is also my stylist, would ask me every time we got together if I was ready to cut it yet. I said no a few times, and then realized I didn’t know how long I wanted to grow it. So, I thought it might be a good time to consider donating it. It gave me a mark to hit, and I do love a goal.
Deciding where to donate was the next hurdle. There are a lot of great organizations out there, so I started by looking at a lot of the major players:
After an initial scan of each organization, I narrowed it down to just three: Locks of Love, Children with Hair Loss and the Clean Wave Program. I was disqualified from the others either because my hair was too short or colored, or both. But I was still left with three great options.
From there I read all the websites thoroughly to make my final choice. If you’ve never heard of the Clean Wave Program, it’s really cool. They use hair to make “brooms” to clean up oil spills. The tree-hugger in me loved that! But, they also encourage you donate your hair to one of the more prominent players if it’s long enough, which is nice. And you only need 3″ of hair to donate. So, it’s a great option for both males and females who have shorter hair. AND if your want your loveable fur ball to feel philanthropic, they also accept pet hair!
So, down to two—much tougher. I really liked Children with Hair Loss (except for the creepy mannequins on the website). They give to children, which I preferred to do, and at no charge. They also choose recipients with all kinds of diagnosis, which I thought was great as I have no particular cause I wanted to support. And they only require eight inches, so I could keep my hair a little longer if I wanted. Plus, they were started by a beautician, which is neat, and the pieces come with hair care kits. It’s the little things! A great option.
Now, the final contender. Over the last few years, Locks of Love has been surrounded by some controversy, so if you’ve heard about that, you may wonder how they made my list. Simply, I did my homework. Almost all of the rumors about them are misunderstandings and can be negated by actually reading their website. Huh, who would’ve thought? The only one that couldn’t was an article posted in 2013 which stated that they had missing funds, up to $6 million. While I agree that’s a problem that I didn’t find a solution to, they did pass the test for many leading charity reviewers: Charity Navigator Four Star Charity, Guide Star Exchange Silver Participant, Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and Independent Charities of America Best. So, my opinion is that they couldn’t fool all of that oversight, especially considering several of those require transparency. Maybe that’s naive, but that’s where I landed.
And I didn’t read anything on their website that I questioned or didn’t agree with. I realize many people out there want the hair pieces to be free to recipients. And I admire that as well, and wish it were always an option as the people needing the hair are in terrible situations. But the hair given to recipients of LoL is either free or on a sliding scale based on their finances. Also, perhaps the largest reason, these are actual prostheses, not just hair pieces or wigs, which means they are fitted to the recipient’s head using custom molds over the course of a few months. So, they are more realistic and less likely to move around. Goodness knows that’s important for kids! This means their prosthesis are for long-term and permanent hair loss. Those who have short-term loss (ex: from chemo), are given synthetic wigs.
LoL also gives to multiple diagnoses, but mostly for Alopecia Areata, to which they also provide funding research, which is amazing. And their website is far more comprehensive than most of the others I looked at, which is always a good thing in my book. They just need to do a better job keeping their social media and blog up-to-date, but I digress.
Let’s face it, I have a mind for business and a heart for charity. And I have worked at both on multiple occasions. Therefore, I know that charities still need to make money. They are doing great work, but families have to be fed and lights have to stay on. So, I don’t knock LoL for needing to charge some people or for selling extra hair they can’t use. It makes a lot of sense.
So, as you can guess, in the end I went with Locks of Love. I sent my 10.5″ off this morning, and feel great about my decision. If I do this again, I may choose a different organization, but for now, I’m enjoying my summer hair, and proud of the fact that I could help someone with such a simple act.
If you ever decide to donate hair, do your own research and make a decision you can stand behind. The point is that we’re all providing a gift to someone who needs it. And that’s always a good thing.
And from my point-of-view, the world could use a few more redheads. 😉