Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 17, 2002

Girl donates lock of hair toward children with incurable diseases

By Julie Yurek

Many girls sport long hair as though it's a requirement for youth.

Katie Goebel, 5, of Winsted wanted other little girls to have hair like hers. So, she cut her blonde hair, about 14 inches of it, and donated it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides custom made hairpieces to children with medical hair loss.

Children comprise more than 80 percent of the donors, according to the organization's website.

Katie's mother, Susan, had read about Locks of Love in various articles, she said.
Susan and Katie went to JoEllen's New Image Salon for the cut May 23.

Katie's hair was combed and braided and with one big cut, stylist JoEllen made the transformation. "It would take 20 minutes to brush her hair in the morning," Susan said.

"I would tell her that we could cut it if she wanted. She'd say no, but then after a while, she said she wanted it cut," Susan said. "I let her think about it for over a year so she would be sure."

Susan also checked with the bride who's wedding Katie is going to be in this fall. "I wanted to make sure the bride didn't want Katie to have long hair for a certain style," Susan said. "The bride didn't mind if we cut it."

Katie's hair is now about chin length. She had about three more inches taken off after the big cut, for a total of 17 inches. "She really likes having the shorter hair," Susan said. "She can brush it all by herself now."

The guidelines for donating hair is it must be at least 10 inches in length, but preferably 12 inches; it needs to be in a pony tail or braid; must be chemically free, and it must be clean and dry. The hair should be placed in a plastic bag and mailed in a padded envelope.

Locks of Love helps mostly girls, which is the reason for the length requirements. The manufacturing process uses two inches of hair, leaving only eight inches in length. Many girls ask for hairpieces that are about 12 to 14 inches long.

For boys' hairpieces, the shorter strands from the ponytail are used.

If the organization receives hair that is shorter than 10 inches or that is grey, it will be sold to help offset the cost of manufacturing, according to its web site.

Locks of Love will also take hair that is "old," Susan said. "I have my long hair from when I was a child that I'm going to send in with Katie's."

The organization began in 1997 and is run mostly by volunteers. The hairpieces are provided free of charge or on a sliding scale to children whose families meet the guidelines set in place by Locks of Love Board of Directors.

Many of the recipients are those who have experienced total hair loss due to various medical reasons and diseases. Children ages six to 17 receive a custom, vacuum-fit human hair hairpiece.

Those under the age of six receive synthetic pieces because their head is experiencing rapid head growth.

A manufacturer hand separates the strands of hair and hand-assembles each hairpiece. Since only certain lengths of hair are used, 10 to 15 ponytails typically go into one piece.

It takes about four months from start to finish for each hair piece.

For more information on Locks of Love, check out its web site at www.locksoflove.org or call toll-free 888-896-1588.

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