May 17, 2022

I Donated My Hair for Charity—& Here’s What I Learned.


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Hair. What is it?

We make such a fuss over having it, or not having it, how we wear it, its texture, shape, fullness, thinness, bounce, curl, color or lack of color, how long or short it is, shine or dullness!

We manage to find a way to groom ourselves to fit the latest looks from just about everything the world of trends and obsessions could conjure up. Just take a look at the beauty industry and how it profits on our constant fussing with our appearance, insecurities, and obsessions with self-image.

Hair is this funny result of time plus the body. We change our hairstyle to reflect milestones or rites of passage in life. It’s a symbol of status, a feature of identity, creative expression, personality, style, and fashion. Some monks and nuns shave it off to practice nonattachment and renunciation. Some yogis let it grow and grow to maintain spiritual connection and power. Scientists examine it for DNA and genetic information. School children are policed on how they are allowed to wear their hair. So many things.

Think about how drastically you feel different if you’ve ever changed your hairstyle or put on a wig. At the end of the day, hair can play a significant part in who we are and our identity.

I recently let go of a few strands to donate to charity—four braids, over a foot long, of my naturally golden-brown, wavy locks to be exact. Once COVID-19 swept over the planet and brought us all inside for a period of lockdowns, quarantining, and isolation, I decided to let my hair grow out, and I told myself I would cut it and donate it once we started to emerge out of this pandemic.

This is now my third time letting it grow out and donating it to be made into a wig for someone in need. Over the years, since I was young, I’ve come to know a few people who have experienced hair loss due to cancer treatment, and I thought that if there was one small thing I could do that might have great meaning, it would be this.

Now after the chop, I feel so much lighter, and it feels good to do a little something to help. I learned we can give a lot by just doing a little. It doesn’t take any effort at all. And altruism doesn’t need to be a big deal. It doesn’t need to be a big show, and in this case, you don’t need to have any money to do something kind that can be incredibly meaningful for someone. As a general rule of thumb, and to echo the Elephant motto, I like to do things that benefit others, even in small, unrecognized, or unacknowledged ways. Have you ever considered donating your hair?

For people experiencing hair loss due to cancer treatment, alopecia, burns or any other medical conditions, buying a real-hair wig can be expensive. Did you know real-hair wigs can cost anywhere from $500-$5,000?

Fortunately, there are a number of charitable organizations that will weave a wig out of real hair to give to someone experiencing hair loss for free. It’s a great gesture to wig recipients and can help them feel like themselves again.

If you’ve never donated your hair before but are inspired to, it’s a really easy process, and I’ll give you the general gist of it here:

1. Let it grow, let it groooow! Decide to do it, and let your hair grow!

2. Be natural. Most charities that make wigs require either untreated hair or minimally processed hair. That means not dyed, bleached blond, color-treated, highlighted, or permed—just all naturale. Some charities accept gray hairs, and some don’t, so keep that in mind when finding an organization to donate to.

3. Select your charity. Check out their requirements before making a salon appointment. Some salons will sponsor your donation, but be sure to check that well ahead of time too.

4. Wait until your hair reaches a minimum length. Different organizations require different lengths, so be sure to know. The shortest length I’ve seen accepted is 8-inches, though 10-inches seems to be the standard, and the more generous you can be the better! When weaving the wigs, a few inches are usually lost in the process.

5. Chop, chop, chop! Check your selected charity’s donation guidelines for how to get your hair cut, then be brave and make the move to do it! Mail in your donation, and that’s it. Bravo for making a contribution!

The charity I chose for my most recent donation is Wigs for Kids. Since I have totally natural, untreated hair with barely any grays yet, I wanted to make use of it and give it to this charity that specializes in making wigs for children and teens.

I remember how important having nice hair was for me as a youth, and so it felt good to give that back to a youngster who could benefit from it. Wigs for Kids does accept gray hair, and requires a minimum of 12 inches, though they encourage 14-plus inches to have a bigger impact.

Another wonderful charity I donated to years ago is Locks of Love, and there are many charities out there for hair donation, as you’ll see by doing a quick online search. As always, check out the organization’s guidelines to know exactly what they require and what you need to do to send in your donation.

In the end, by just growing out and sending in your healthy hair, you could be making a positive impact and contributing to someone regaining their self-confidence and feeling like themselves again.

What a wonderful thing!


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