From the New York Times article:
[A]lthough charities have been highly effective at stirring the passions of donors, they have been less successful at finding a use for the mountains of hair sent to them as a result. As much as 80 percent of the hair donated to Locks of Love, the best-known of the charities, is unusable for its wigs, the group says. [Much] is immediately thrown away. Even hair that survives the winnowing may not go to the gravely ill, but may be sold to help pay for charities’ organizational costs.
Locks of Love sends the best of the hair it receives to a wig manufacturer, Taylormade Hair Replacement in Millbrae, Calif., which weeds through the selection still further, rejecting up to half. “We hate throwing it away but ultimately we have to clear the place out,” said Greg Taylor, the president and owner of Taylormade. “There is a disparity between the hundreds and hundreds of braids and ponytails and the number of hairpieces we’ve produced.”
The group makes clear in its literature and on its Web site that most of the wig recipients are not children with cancer. Rather, they are children who suffer from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that destroys follicles and results in hair loss. About 2 percent of the population, including half a million children, are estimated to have alopecia.
But many alopecia sufferers seem unaware that they are the group’s main priority; only about 10 apply for a wig each week, Ms. Coffman said. Many donors, too, seem ignorant or only partly aware of the group’s focus.
R. W. McQuarters, a cornerback for the New York Giants who donated his dreadlocks to Locks of Love in March, said he wishes he had known that they are unacceptable for wigmaking and probably ended up in the trash. “I’d rather them send back the hair,” he said. “I could have sold them on eBay and then taken the cash and given it to charity.”
In fact, all three of the children’s charities sell excess hair–in particular, the short and the gray–to commercial wig makers to defray costs. According to its tax returns, Locks of Love made $1.9 million from hair sales from 2001 to 2006, and took in another $3.4 million in donations.
The donations keep rolling in, perhaps because cutting off one’s hair for charity is an altruistic deed that doesn’t require a financial contribution, which may be why it appeals so much to children. It is also an intimate act that suggests an instant result, said Bennett Weiner, the chief operating officer of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, a national monitor of charities. “People like the feeling that their gift will be helping now,” Mr. Weiner said.
The idea that donated hair can benefit a gravely ill woman or child is so pervasive that some long-haired people even report being harassed for not chopping off their locks. Heidi Woeller, 47, an administrative assistant at a hardware company in DeKalb, Ill., whose hair reaches the back of her calves when worn loose, recalled that at an antiques fair last summer two women asked if she intended to donate. When she said no, they berated her, insisting she set an example.
Perhaps they would be less adamant if they could visit Ms. Coffman in the Locks of Love office in Florida. Every day the hanks of hair arrive, filling some 10 postal bins, representing the best intentions of donors, but so much of it destined for the trash.
“A check would be easier for me,” Ms. Coffman said. “But would the donors get out of it what they do? No.”
How awful! I only wish her final quotation here would get through people’s thick heads. Stop worrying about your feel-good ego and your “obvious sacrifice” trip and WRITE A CHECK!!
Comment thread going on at Cleolinda’s journal, as well.
I’ve been talking about this for some time–the charities that do these hair-a-thons where they cut off everybody’s hair and then tell them to feel good because it’s going to wigs for cancer patients mostly DON’T EVEN DO WIGS FOR CANCER PATIENTS (LoL is for alopecia patients) and MOSTLY DISCARD MOST OF THAT HAIR. If you really want to help, give money, volunteer your time, take canned goods to the local shelter(s), or become a medical researcher to find a cure for cancer and other diseases. But keep your hair! It looks best on YOU, where it grew!
Many of these girls in the photo on the NYT site look as if they are bracing themselves because they have been pressured into doing this. Just look at their expressions. The power-holders are the ones doing the chopping. They get kind of a rush/kick out of it, I’ll bet. It’s all just another social pressure on people with long hair. (Do we force you shorthairs to grow yours out? Never once have I hassled someone.) Live and let live. And give something that’s of real value, such as your time (volunteer at a hospice sometime . . . now THERE is a sacrifice for you.)
I’ve always thought it was kinda shivery/creepy to wear someone else’s HAIR, anyway. *eeew*
! ! !
Two more pretty quotations for delusional writers who like to think they’re going to get published:
If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.~Somerset Maugham
[He’s probably right about that, but notice he doesn’t add, “. . . and if you’ll only persist, you’ll get published.”]
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.~ Buddha
[Then why am I not either a successful author or a large carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream??]