Girl clipped for a cause

Monday, June 17, 2002

Submitted photo

Jalana Johnson held up the 13-inch hair donation she has made to Locks of Love.

By B. Ray Owen ~ Southeast Missourian

Of all the milestones in a child's life, surely the first haircut is one of them. Family members snap pictures -- sometimes tearfully -- as the barber or stylist crops off the curls.

When Jalana Johnson sat in the stylist's chair recently, she was getting a haircut -- her first.

There were no tears.

Johnson, 8, is happy. This was a clip for a cause.

Johnson, who will be a third-grader at the Cape Christian School in the fall, had been wanting to have her hair cut.

"I really didn't want her to get her hair cut," said her grandmother Joann Leadbetter. "It had never been cut. She had pretty, long hair."

When Johnson heard about the Locks of Love program, she approached her grandmother again. Johnson makes her home with her grandparents, Ray and Joann Leadbetter.

"We relented," said Joann Leadbetter. "Now, Jalana loves her new short hair. In fact, she's thrilled with it. And she loves telling her friends that she helped some young children by giving her hair to Locks of Love."

Diane King, a stylist at Hairport in the Town Plaza in Cape Girardeau, said a number of children received haircuts recently, with intentions to donate the hair to the program.

"Children have to cut off at least 12 inches of hair," said King. "In Jalana's case, we cut about 13 inches to be submitted."

"We have occasional requests for the special haircuts to send to Locks of Love," said Marilyn Pind of Marilyn's Beauty Salon, 221 Independence. "There aren't that many people with that much hair that they are willing to give up," she said.

Bundles of donated hair arrive from around the country each day at Locks of Love, at Lake Worth, Fla.

The not-for-profit organization provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under the age of 18 with medical hair loss. Custom-fitted hair prosthetics are provided free or on a sliding scale to children whose families meet the financial guidelines.

Donors provide the hair, volunteers staff the office, and the manufacturer hand-assembles each piece, which often requires four months.

Most of the donors are children who drop a note and picture with their bundle of hair, said a spokesman of Locks of Love. Children account for more than 80 percent of the donors, making this a charity where children have the opportunity to help other children.

For information, contact Locks of Love, 2925 10th Ave. N., Suite 102, Lake Worth, Fla., 33461. Information is also available at a number of beauty salons throughout the area.

The requirements are about the same for another group that provides hair for children -- Wigs for Kids, 21330 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, Ohio, 44116.

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