Lakeside Elementary finds unique way to give back

[by Melissa Brisco
Staff Writer

There are many different ways to volunteer or to give back. Some of the more common ways are donating money, volunteering at a soup kitchen or purchasing a product where some of the proceeds go to a certain cause. There is one other form of helping out not often considered: hair donation.

In addition to all of the deferential ways that cancer affects one’s health, there is another way cancer negatively affects cancer patients: through the loss of their hair. Chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer that targets and impairs mitosis in fast growing cells. Cancer cells are extremely fast growing, thus the creation of Chemotherapy. However, there are other kinds of fast growing cells, such as hair follicles. This results with cancer patients losing their hair.

Lakeside Elementary is doing something to help. Lakeside held a “Ponytail” drive to collect hair donations for the company “Pink Heart Funds.” It is called a “ponytail” drive, because the only way you can donate hair is if it is in a “ponytail” and the hair is cut from above the hair tie. “Pink Heart Funds” is a similar company to the more popular “Locks for Love.” A large difference between “Pink Hearts Fund” and “Locks for Love” is each wig made by “Pink Hearts Funds” is given away for free. “Locks for Love” charges for some of their wigs. Lakeside has held a ‘Ponytail drive’ for the past four years benefiting ‘Locks for Love’.

Photo by Melissa Brisco”][/caption]

“Lakeside has donated to ‘Locks for Love’ in the past, but we decided to change organizations to ‘Pink Heart Funds’ this year,” head of service learning and second grade teacher Jennifer Kubinsky said. “We decided to go with Pink Heart Funds because they donate all wigs 100 percent, and we thought that it would be a good idea to help out a new charity.”

Lakeside hosted the event, which was open to the public, on May 6. The haircuts took place in an upstairs class room. A team of stylists, teachers and parent volunteers help cut all of the hair. In total, 14 students and 4 teachers, including Lakeside’s principal, donated their hair. Next year, Lakeside hopes to hatch a plan to get more students involved.

“Next year, we want to do something where girls in September pledge to grow out their hair until the end of the year and then donate,” Kubinsky said. “Then the following year we will try to beat the year before and make it bigger and better each year.”

Niceley flew to Dallas for the event.

“It was beautiful and I am glad I was able to come,” Niceley said.

There are other schools across the nation that hold ponytail drives, but Niceley claims that schools in Texas hold the most ponytail drives and collect the most ponytails. Niceley is very excited with the young girls getting involved.

“It was just awesome to be a part of this ponytail drive with so many young girls sharing their hair to make a difference in another child’s life,” Niceley said. “To be there brought tears my eyes…tears of joy.”

The event was a success and Lakeside Principal Gemma Hall was very pleased with how things went.

“I felt as though the ponytail drive went quite well,” Hall said. “I believe the ponytail drive was fantastic, it truly demonstrated the compassion and philanthropy of the Lakeside community.”

Pink Heart Funds is a nonprofit organization, based out of Long Beach, Miss., providing free wigs for individuals of any age who have lost hair due to cancer treatment or an illness. Pink Heart Funds also provides women with free breast prostheses and lymphedema sleeves following breast cancer surgery. The founder of Pink Hearts Funds, JoAn Niceley, a breast cancer survivor, was a licensed hair stylist for 31 and a salon owner for 28 years. Niceley personally styles each ponytail into a unique and beautiful wig.

Pink Heart Funds also offers different ways to help out for those who cannot or chose not to donate their hair. It costs roughly $250 to make each wig, so any monetary donations are appreciated and help. There are also a variety of different items up for purchase on their website. Some items for sale are the Appetite for Living Cookbook, The Butterfly Song (CD), Short Cuts for Cooking or Hair and the Share Your Hair T-Shirt.