I wanted to raise awareness of the Locks of Love foundation because my friend was recently diagnosed with cancer, so I advertised for the foundation. I collected 104 ponytails overall.
When my friend was diagnosed with leukemia, I decided to collect ponytails for the Locks of Love foundation because I knew she had to purchase a wig when she started to lose her hair. I advertised in local schools, churches and newspapers, and I received an especially extraordinary ponytail from my great aunt’s childhood. After I received help from fifteen salons, I completed the project with the final donation as my own hair and I mailed the box of 104 ponytails to the Locks of Love foundation.
As part of this project, I contacted 30 hair salons in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, and Warrenville and asked them to agree to cut hair on three specific days for people that would donate more than 10 inches to the Locks of Love foundation. By holding a blitz, on these three days (September 1, September 22, and October 27), the recognition for the foundation would increase. Of the thirty salons I contacted, fifteen agreed to participate in the project. I then needed to advertise this project and let the communities know of the project and which salons were participating. I started advertising this project six weeks before the first day. Every place I went, I talked about this project. I emailed my mom’s Girl Scout troops, my Service Unit members, and all the leaders in Indian Hills and NOGS Hill service units. I even went up to girls I did not know and complimented them on their long hair while telling them about my project. I then asked them if they would be interested in donating a portion of at least ten inches (the minimum requirement for Lock of Love) of their hair. I contacted nine churches in the nearby areas and the information ran from one and two weeks to once a month promoting the haircutting blitz. I also sent information to the local school districts, elementary, middle and high schools to have them put information in their monthly newsletter. Most districts would not participate due to policy, but by personally contacting PTA members, I was able to advertise in my old middle school since this age group would have a large population of long untreated hair donors. I made over 200 flyers that I gave to the participating salons and I handed them out to fellow classmates, since posters were not allowed in my school. Each salon and some local businesses had handmade posters in their windows advertising the dates and locations of participating vendors. I contacted the local newspapers, and was interviewed by local writers for specific human-interest support. They were the biggest support group, considering I received hair donations from outside of the three focus communities. One week prior to each haircutting day, I contacted all of the salons and dropped off collection supplies (Ziploc bags and cards to record the donor’s information) for documentation and storage purposes. Lastly, I wrote personal thank you notes to all the donors that provided their hair for this project. I also recognized the salons with notes and treats.
The most troubling factor of this achievement was following up with salons. Many salons flat out told me, “no” while others kept saying they would think about the project and would call me back. I had to continue to call many of the salons and many people thought I was too young to be asking for important information. In addition, the project progression started out slow with only three ponytails after the first day, but it snowballed into a community awareness promotion for the remainder of the year. As I started this project, I received many responses of rejection. I needed to find the appropriate response from salons to let them know what a great impact their skills would have on the lives of younger people rather than a “Why should I do this, I would lose money and my time.” I was never discouraged with rejection, but rather it made me more passionate about the project and my end goal.
The purpose of this project was to make the community aware of the impact they could make on a person’s life by donating their own hair. The project was not monetary; it was very personal to all the people who donated their hair. This project taught me that organizational and communication skills can assist with just about anything. Personally, I recognized my unawareness of the importance of my hair. As I e-mailed, and dropped off articles for newspapers, bulletins and newsletters, I also acknowledged the efforts of follow-up. As I spoke of the project with all these people, my enthusiasm grew and consequently it showed by the number of ponytails I was able to donate to the foundation. I also saw that I was a good listener and always showed compassion. I was a supportive friend to many who were hesitant to cut their hair and donate it to Locks of Love. By presenting wigs to children, the organization provides a means of greater self-esteem during a time when illness is all they can endure, and these image conflicts and low self-esteem problems will cease to exist due to the amount of hair offered to the organization. It takes a tremendous amount of hair to make a wig and based on the quantity of hair collected, many children will have beautiful wigs available to them. I will never meet the children who are the recipients of the wigs, but I know that the 104 ponytails that were donated will have a monumental impact on the children. I know that the children who receive this hair will be overjoyed and thankful for the choices of hair they will have. While supplying a variety of choice to the children sponsored by Locks of Love, I hope they feel as happy and confident as others do in life. Individuals can donate their hair, but by getting the community and business involved in the promotion, they were also donating their time and work to this worthy cause. Others in the community had the chance to reach out to children with illnesses causing hair loss by donating their own hair and volunteering to cut other’s hair. Many of the businesses were not franchises, but personally owned businesses. The owners have continued to offer this donation of their time to those interested in donating their hair to Locks of Love. I am now seventeen years old and at this age, most high school teenagers will help in a service project, but not take on the magnitude of responsibility for a project like this. Through a tenacious and caring manner, I was able to complete a successful and worthwhile goal. As a benefit of this project, I am continually aware of giving back to the community and those less fortunate.