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UWRF student donates 60 inches of hair to charity

February 21, 2013

UW-River Falls student Carrie Powell can’t run marathons or donate blood, but that hasn’t stopped her from giving back to those in need.

Powell is anemic, but for the fourth time in her 22-year-old life, Powell has given back by donating her hair to Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis, according to their mission statement.

Powell donated her first ponytail when she was 12.  She cut off 15 inches at that time. Her most recent donation came on Feb. 19 when she cut 13 more inches off, bringing her total to 60 inches in all. Powell said she wanted to hit 60 inches because that is the amount needed to make a wig for a child.

According to the Locks of Love website, the hair prosthetics Locks of Love provides are custom-made from donated ponytails for each child’s head. They retail between $3,500 to $6,000. The hairpiece forms a vacuum seal, like a suction cup, and does not require the use of tape or glue. Locks of Love has provided wigs for over 2,000 children since its inception in 1989.

Powell added that it takes a minimum of 10 inches to be donated and that all one has to do is walk into a salon and make a ponytail to be later sent to Locks of Love.  Some salons, like Fantastic Sam’s, (where Powell went) even offer a free haircut to those who donate.
While the children who receive these wigs are given higher self-esteem, Powell said she has benefitted from donating her hair, too.

“My mom said I was a different person. After I donated in the freshman year of college I came out of my shell and have been energized,” Powell said.

Powell said she wasn’t scared to donate her hair. “It’s just hair,” Powell said. “It will grow back.”

And her simple message to the campus community: “Just do it, why not?”