Friday, June 15, 2001


Girl donates red tresses to 'Locks of Love'

By LYNN BULMAHN
Staff Writer

DELAND -- Chelsea Anderson's long, red hair has been the envy of all the girls in her fifth-grade class at Blue Lake Elementary School.

But to Chelsea, an admitted tomboy at age 11, it's getting in the way this summer.

"When we played soccer, we had to put it up in a pony tail, and it still got hot," the DeLand girl said. "Riding my bike and stuff, I don't like to put my hair up, and it gets hot."

The length, to the middle of her back, is hard to manage when she swims in her family's pool. The youngster with a "Peppermint Patty" personality wants a more grown-up, bobbed style. One that's more suited to next week's trip to soccer camp and entering DeLand Middle School this fall.

Thursday afternoon, she got her long locks shorn.

But her tresses didn't end up on the beauty shop floor -- or in a trash bin. Instead, Chelsea's long, red tresses will likely become the envy of some other little girl's classmates.

Her hair is being donated to an organization that will make it into a wig for a child who is bald.

Locks of Love is a Palm Springs-based national charity that takes donated human hair -- tied into ponytails or braided -- and makes it into special hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children who have lost their hair because of medical conditions.

Usually, the children are little girls who want long hair. That's why the organization encourages people to send in hair that's a foot or more in length.

It requires about four months, and a dozen ponytails, to make a single wig. When children are completely bald, they need a vacuum-fitted hairpiece, which retails at $3,000 or more.

Chelsea decided to give her hair to the cause.

"I was watching an 'Oprah' (Winfrey) show about Children Making A Difference, and I called Chelsea in to watch it with me," said Cheri Anderson, Chelsea's mother.

The program featured another child who cut her hair off for Locks of Love.

"Chelsea decided an immediate contribution she could make would be the gift of her gorgeous red hair," her mother added.

"I never met anybody like that, but I know about it," Chelsea said of medical hair loss.

The Andersons' friend, Melissa Mark, is a beautician at Cut Loose Salon. When she heard of Chelsea's decision, she chipped in a free haircut.

It's a lot more difficult to cut off the hair in one piece, Mark said as she combed through Chelsea's bouncy, chin-length pageboy.

"It usually doesn't come out even, but she has thick hair."

As Chelsea viewed her new 'do in the mirror, Mark commented on her teen-age appearance. Cheri Anderson flashed a wistful smile, seeing her daughter at another milestone.

"I'm very, very proud of her," the mother said. "She has a sensitive, caring soul."

Since the charity began in 1997, Locks of Love has helped more than 400 children. Many have long-term baldness caused by alopecia areata. This auto-immune condition attacks hair follicles and prevents hair from growing in.

Locks of Love accepts undamaged hair from men, women or youngsters. However, 80 percent of hair donors are children, Locks of Love says.

News of Chelsea's gift caused a buzz throughout the beauty shop.

"Can I give you a hug?" Shanna Williams, another customer, asked Chelsea at the checkout desk. "I think you are a very unselfish girl. You did a very generous thing. I know you'll be blessed for it."

Locks of Love has specific instructions on how to cut, package and send the donated hair. To find out more, call (888) 896-1588 or view its Web site at www.locksoflove.org

From the Daytona Beach News Journal