A How To: Donating Hair to “Wigs for Kids”
Over the years I’ve had my hair many different lengths – everything from a pixie cut to, most recently, hair that was almost to my waist. That was definitely the longest it has ever been, long enough for my nieces to compare it to ‘Rapunzel’ hair! Why did I grow it so long? Maybe it was just out of laziness, but I hardly ever had my hair cut. Soon it felt just a little bit too long. When hair gets caught in your purse zipper, your car door, and you can’t seem to ever get it into a comfortable ponytail, you start to tell yourself that maybe it’s time to at least get a trim.
You may think, “What’s the big deal.” I knew it is just hair, but it is my hair, and I knew it was time for a haircut. I loved having long hair even with all the extra hassle. I was ready, or at least open, to the idea of cutting it.
After years of taking great care of my hair, it just seemed wasteful to cut and discard it. So I decided I would donate it. In researching different options for hair donation, I decided on an organization called Wigs for Kids. Wigs for Kids requires at least 12 inches of non-chemically treated hair. My hair was now long enough that I was comfortable in donating the required 12 inches.
There are many organizations that accept hair donations, but I chose Wigs for Kids because, unlike some other hair donation organizations, Wigs for Kids never charges a child for a wig. They also supply the child with special products to care for their new hair. I had no idea how many donations were required for each wig. I thought maybe 5 or so, but no, it takes 25-30 ponytails to make one wig! It also takes $1800. Each wig is made by hand tying about 150,000 strands of hair.
I’m not going to lie. As my appointment drew near I had a crazy amount of anxiety about cutting my hair! I warned my stylist beforehand that I would need a glass of wine or two while I was waiting for the big cut! Maybe this was just silly, but as I stated earlier “It’s my hair!” It took years to get there so it was only natural for me to feel nervous about cutting it.
I made sure my hair was clean and dry before I went to the salon. When I arrived at my salon, my hair was brushed and separated into four ponytails. This allows for a more generous length of the donation. I had my glass of wine and was ready!
Packaging up the hair donation made me really nervous. The instructions state to secure the ponytails, wrap them in tissue paper and then place in a plastic bag. My hair is very fine in texture and, therefore, very slippery. I almost had a panic attack when I was trying to package the ponytails for mailing as my hair starting slipping.
If I were to do this all over again I would make sure that each ponytail was secured several times in several bands before cutting. I would also bring the tissue paper to the salon and securely wrap it up right then and there. Wigs for Kids instructed me to make sure each ponytail was very tight before wrapping in tissue paper.
As I packed up the four ponytails I secured them together with hair bands that I cut and tied instead of wrapping as a ponytail. I do not recommend trying to wrap the already cut hair in hair bands, as you should try not to handle the ponytails too much. The directions suggest to then fold all the hair in half, but this direction made me paranoid as I thought folding the hair would place stress on the ponytail. I bought an extra large baggie so I wouldn’t have to fold the ponytail.
I am very happy with my new hairdo. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders, literally! Of course I can’t play “long hair” anymore with my three nieces. This was the game that I frequently played with them that simply involved kneeling behind one of them and throwing my hair over theirs as they pretended my hair was their own. There are also no more Tangled moments when these three little girls surround me brushing and styling my hair with various hair bands and barrettes. And, of course, there was the trick where I was able to grab the ends of my hair and completely straighten both arms to the side. I guess this wasn’t really a trick as much as it was just a demonstration of ridiculously how long my hair had grown! Those days are over at least for now.
The upside is that I am using much less conditioner now, my shower drain isn’t clogged anymore and I lost a pound or so giving my neck some much needed relief. Much more importantly though, a child who is in need of some normalcy in his or her life will have it along with a boost in self-confidence.
All the anxiety and worry about cutting my hair seems really silly now.
For more information on Wigs for Kids, visit www.wigsforkids.org. Have any questions about how to donate your hair? Comment below and I’ll share more tips and what I learned.