There's one New Year's resolution that coordinators of the 2016 National Youth Event are suggesting to the young people and their chaperones who are planning to attend NYE, July 26-30 at Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Resolve to skip your regular haircuts, grow your hair until the gathering, and donate on-site to Locks of Love.
"We encourage not only the youth, but group leaders and all registrants, to consider growing out their hair now to reach the 10-inch minimum of growth required to make a donation," said the Rev. Waltrina Middleton, UCC associate for National Youth Event programming. "Folks can visit the Locks of Love website to learn about the requirements for hair condition."
Locks of Love will use the donated hair to make wigs for children who have lost theirs.
"Locks of Love is devoted to helping every child suffering from medical hair loss [no matter why the child has lost their hair]," said Lilly Robbins, Locks of Love's communication director. "Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by using donated ponytails to provide the highest quality prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children."
The charity, which got its start in Florida, is the creation of a retired cardiac nurse who lost all her hair after a vaccination. After her 4-year-old daughter developed alopecia 15 years later and lost all her hair, Locks of Love was born.
"The hairpieces we provide are custom made prosthetic pieces, not wigs. The hairpiece forms a vacuum seal, like a suction cup, and does not require the use of tape or glue. Only the wearer of the hairpiece may remove it, by breaking the vacuum seal at the temples. It takes us 9-10 ponytails to create each hairpiece," said Robbins. "The minimum length in 10 inches, anything more is greatly appreciated, the hair can be colored, but we cannot accept any hair that has been bleached or highlighted."
NYE organizers want to make the donation process easy. Middleton said there will be a Locks of Love Hair Salon on-site at Disney World, where appointments may be made to donate your hair. There will also be local stylists offering haircuts.
Middleton, who came up with the idea to assist Locks of Love after reading an article about UCC youth who organized a local Locks of Love campaign to raise awareness around the cause and to help raise funds for a regional youth event, hopes to spur that type of involvement for NYE.
"Youth groups can challenge their congregations, community members, and friends and family to donate money for every inch of hair they grow and will ultimately donate at NYE next summer," said Middleton. "If someone isn’t planning on attending NYE, they can still grow out their hair and consider sending their hair with a youth group to donate at NYE."
"The vision and inspiration for Locks of Love came from the heart of our youth," Middleton said. "It's a perfect fit for NYE, considering the Locks of Love national office is located in Florida and this is a service outreach most everyone can support in some way."
Registration for the National Youth Event opens Jan. 20, and registrants will be able to indicate if they will be a Locks of Love donor. More details will be provided on how to sign up for a haircut and donate your hair at NYE on the NYE website.
Top photo: Courtney, a Locks of Love recipient in her prosthetic hairpiece.