By Nicole Veenstra
With Thanksgiving break plans and final exams looming over the heads of students, the length of their hair would seem to be the last thing on students’ minds. For the month of November, however, it has become the main topic of conversation.
This is all a result of “no-shave November,” a month-long event — either to raise money for charity or to satisfy a craving for competition among friends — where the razors are put away and facial hair is left to freely grow.
No-shave November is not the only reason a person allows his or her hair to grow, however. Various organizations ask for donations of hair year round, encouraging others to let their hair grow until it is long enough to meet the length requirement, which ranges depending on the organization.
The majority of those who decide to donate have a personal reason for giving back, including freshman Jenny Adams.
“I donated my hair because my mom lost her hair to cancer,” she said. “Donating my hair was a way I could help people who had also lost their hair because of cancer.”
Locks of Love, one of the better-known hair donation organizations, “specifically gives to children suffering from long-term medical conditions,” according to Rebecca MacLeon, a sophomore at Rider.
MacLeon donated her hair to Locks of Love while her grandmother was going through chemotherapy.
“Having hair is often a security blanket and a confidence booster,” she said. “My grandmother curled her hair every day without fail and when she got chemo she styled her wigs everyday. Even though donating will require you to have hair that is much shorter than what you’re used to, someone out there could really benefit from a beautiful wig to help them feel confident when so much is out of control.”
Though it is the most famous organization, Locks of Love is not the only one that creates wigs from human hair.
“I wanted to give it to Locks of Love, but somebody told me that they’re a little shady with the way they use the hair they receive,” senior Marissa DiPilla said. “Someone else told me about some kind of hair donation through Dove, though, so I think I’m going to check that one out.”
Loni Chasar, a senior, has donated hair a total of four times, twice to Locks of Love and twice to Wigs for Kids, a company that makes wigs for children who have suffered hair loss for whatever reason.
“I felt good about what I was doing, but I was always scared to lose my long hair because I was concerned I wouldn’t like my haircut,” she said. “Hair grows though, so I knew it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
Senior Brandi Lukas donated her hair for the first time in October after the hairdresser told her she could get the haircut for free if she gave a minimum of 10 inches.
“It takes a very long time to grow hair and having a ‘bad haircut’ is one of the most haunting things,” she said. “It felt nice to donate it, though. I’m glad I gave the extra inch or two, rather than seeing my hair swept away on the floor.”
No matter what the original reason for their donation was, many of the people who donate want to encourage others to grow their hair out as well because of how it can affect the people receiving the wigs.
“I would definitely recommend other people donate their hair,” sophomore Lorelei Colbert said. “Not only can you change someone’s life, but you can also have a new look in your own life. It’s your life, why not live it to the fullest?”