December 12, 2006 > Locks of Love
Locks of Love
by Pushpa Warrier
Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss. It uses 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, like alopecia areata, or due to the side effects of cancer treatments. The prostheses provided go a long way to restore the child’s self-esteem and confidence.
“We have only one office, so we rely on volunteers and the media to spread the word about Locks of Love which is determined to help children suffering from any kind of hair loss,” said Lauren Kukkamaa, communications director, Locks of Love. We are actively searching for recipients so that we can help our children.”
When Locks of Love first began, it was connected with a for-profit wig retailer. In December 1997, the organization obtained its non-profit certification from the IRS. With the installation of a volunteer board of directors, the charity began operating as an entity unto itself. This program was spearheaded by Madonna Coffman, a retired cardiac nurse who had a great deal of volunteer experience working for non-profits in the surrounding Palm Beach, Fla. area.
When Coffman was in her twenties, she developed alopecia areata after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. With medications, she recovered. Fifteen years later, her 4-year-old daughter developed condition and lost all of her hair. Madonna said it was difficult enough to deal with her own hair loss, but her daughter's loss was ten times harder. It was at this time that she quit all other charity work and took on Locks of Love as a full-time volunteer motivated by her daughter’s recovery.
For some time, the contents of Coffman’s garage contained bins of mail and hair donations. After finally securing donated office space from a local hospital and then locating a manufacturer of the highest quality prosthetics, Locks of Love was off and running. Since the beginning, the charity has received a great deal of support throughout the country. Locks of Love has been featured on television shows such as The Today Show, Oprah, and 20/20 among others, as well as in publications like Glamour, CosmoGirl, and Ladies Home Journal.
The number of hairpieces produced has increased significantly since its inception, from 21 the first year to over 2,000 per year today. Locks of Love provides hairpieces to recipients in the U.S. and Canada. The majority of donated hair comes from children who want to help other children.
Hair is needed from men and women, young and old, all colors and ethnic groups. A 10-inch minimum hair length (tip to tip) is required. Just bundle the clean hair into a ponytail or braid, place in a plastic bag, and mail it in a padded envelope. Do not send bleached hair. Permed hair, however, is acceptable.
When the hair is received, volunteers open and sort before send it to the manufacturer who hand-assembles each piece. It’s about a four-month process.
Locks of Love fundraising events are always happening in the Tri-Cities. Just look for participating salons with a Locks of Love decal in the window. If you would like to organize an event, download the registration packet at www.locksoflove.org and submit your information by mail or fax. Financial contributions are always welcome.
Locks of Love
2925 10th Ave. North, Ste. 102
Lake Worth, FL 33461