Hair Donations

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Letter of Thanks

What I’m doing:

I recently boosted a Facebook post with pictures from the the last year or so of hair donations that I’ve done at the shop.  The response was amazing.  The support for my efforts and the number of “likes” I received was humbling.  The attention I received inspired me to post about Who I send my donations to and why.  What are some of the other charities that help people cope with hair loss.  I had the opportunity to take a donation from a women who’s from the town in India where the majority of “Remy Hair” is from and the history of hair donation there.  It all reminded me of the documentary “Good Hair” produced by Chris Rock.  He was inspired to make the movie when his daughter asked him why they didn’t have good (straight) hair.

Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, India:

A client called to make an appointment for a hair donation back in Minnetonka.  She had beautiful wavy dark brown hair down to the middle of her back.  She told me she used to donate her hair every year, but now that she’s a little older, her hair doesn’t grow as fast as it used to so now she only donates every other year!  I had just seen the documentary “Good Hair” and was sharing an anecdote about extensions and the Temple in India.  She laughed and said that’s the village she grew up in.  I apologized for my super arrow view, she said don’t worry and told me more about it.

One of the original donation centers is in Tirumala, in Southern India, where roughly 20,000 people a day come to donate their hair.  The origin story goes that Sri Venkateswara wanted a lavish wedding celebration.  In order to finance it, he took out a loan that was so great that followers are still paying it off today.  It’s seen mostly as a sacrifice and as a way of shedding the ego.  The Temple collects 500 tons of hair per year.  The pristine hair is auctioned and sold on the world market for wigs and extensions.  Here is a little snippet from “Good Hair”.

Who I’m sending donations to and why:

I recommend Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  I like that they only need 8 inches of hair.  People can donate 4 to 6 months sooner than with other organizations.  Pantene doesn’t charge for their wigs.  PBL has a good record of keeping their administrative costs down and have most of their resources going to women (specifically) in need.  The hair is mailed to a sorting center coincidentally, to Grand Rapids Minnesota where my parents live.

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Other possible Charities:

I’m a fan of  Wigs for Kids.  I’m Facebook friends with the founder Maggie Varney.  She’s a tireless worker in her salon and for the charity.  I went to the website a couple of weeks ago and I was surprised to find a message that they would prefer cash donations over hair donations right now.  While I appreciate the overhead that goes into getting these wigs to the kids who need them, I was a little put off.  It’s easier for me as a hairstylist to recommend that I bundle 12 inches of hair on a big chop makeover than it is to encourage someone to donate money.  Still their heart’s in the right place.

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Locks of Love.  I used to send my hair donations there, back in Minnesota.  They need 10 inches of clean hair.  LoL doesn’t mind if the hair is chemically treated (color or perm), but they don’t accept hair that has been bleached (highlighted).  They have a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator.   LoL can’t seem to shake the stigma of charging for their services.  The application process for a child requires a tax return, so the price is on a sliding scale depending on income.  Still Locks of Love is the most popular charity for kids with hair related medical issues.

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They’re all great charities.  Let me know when you’re ready for the big chop!

Sarah Kelly

P3 Hair Design

805.324.7950