Locks of love

Monday, May 7, 2007
Millersville Grade School student Charleigh Simmons, 8, donated her hair to Locks of Love for two consecutive years. Last year it was a 12-inch donation, this year, 10 inches. Charleigh wants to regularly donate her hair in remembrance of her late grandmother, Norma Simmons, who wore wigs after losing her hair due to chemotherapy for cancer. (Submitted photo)

Southeast Missourian

Locks of Love is a public not-for-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. They use the donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics.

Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. When Locks of Love first began, it was connected with a for-profit wig retailer. The organization obtained its 501 (c)(3) certification from the IRS and with a volunteer board of directors, the charity began operating as an entity unto itself under its bylaws and separated from the for-profit retailer. This initiative was spearheaded by Madonna Coffman, a retired cardiac nurse who had a great deal of volunteer experience working for not-for-profits in the surrounding Palm Beach area.

Coffman developed alopecia in her 20s after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. She recovered. Her 4-year old daughter developed alopecia 15 years later and lost all of her hair. Coffman said it was harder to deal with her daughter's hair loss and took on Locks of Love as a full-time volunteer cheered on by her daughter's recovery as her inspiration.

After securing donated office space from a local hospital and locating a manufacturer of the highest quality prosthetics, Locks of Love was off and running. The number of hairpieces provided has increased significantly since its inception. To date, over 2,000 children have been helped. Locks of Love has recipients in all 50 states and Canada and is working toward its goal to help every financially disadvantaged child suffering from long-term hair loss.

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