Family Shares ‘Locks of Love’

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Inside her home salon in Moline, Becky Harris measures ten inches from 12-year-old Celica Tristan’s hair which is in a pony tail held together by a bright yellow rubber band.  With a pair of large shears Becky makes various cuts through her thick hair until finally she holds up in the air the hair which used to hang down Celica’s back; now it’s shoulder length.  Her mother Paty Cruz and her aunt Norma Tristan watch with big smiles on their faces.

While most young ladies would cry at the thought of their stylist making such at drastic change with their hair, Celica is happy because she knows she is helping other kids who have lost all of their hair due to a medical diagnosis. 

“It’s fun, and you are just doing it for a good cause, to help kids out,” says Celica, who has cut her hair twice and donated it to Locks of Love, an non-profit organization which makes wigs out of donated hair for disadvantaged children who suffer from long-term medical hair loss. 

Waiting for her turn after Celica, is her aunt Norma who is also donating 10 inches of her hair.  For Norma – who can’t recall donating 3 or 4 times in the past – this cut is so meaningful that she called Harris months in advance to reserve this date, March 7, to make sure she would be able to honor her son Martin who passed away exactly 10 years ago due to complications from leukemia.  He passed away when he was only 2 years old and would be Celica’s age today. 

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Norma and her daughter Sonia Herrera found out about the Locks of Love cause and they have donated their hair since.  They have been encouraging others like Celica to do this.
“They don’t mind it (cutting their hair).  My sister did hers yesterday also in memory of my son,” says Norma.  

Then it was Norma’s turn to cut her curly long hair.  It is washed, which makes the cutting much quicker than Celica’s.  Norma doesn’t see this as a sacrifice; she has been looking forward to this day for a while since she knows another child will be helped in memory of her son.
“I see it as helping out other people.  It makes me feel real good that I can do this to help someone who may need the hair,” she said. 

As Harris works on the hair, she explains how easy it was to get the donation form from the Locks of Love website.  “I’ll just send it in.  I’ll just place that hair when it’s dry and the pony tail in a bag and then an envelope and I just send it out to them.”

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She sends about 3 or 4 donations from her clients per year but this year these are her second and third donations and it is only March.

Some people don’t think they can donate their hair because of dyes, hair coloring, permed or grey hair but they actually can.   According to the Locks for Love website they just don’t accept bleached hair or most hair with highlights (since most highlights contain bleach), and dreadlocks.  Grey hair and the shorter hair of layered hair are then sold to help cover other costs for the organization.

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“One of her friends just got it cut not too long ago, by other little girls seeing each other doing this, it motivates them to encourage each other,” says Paty Cruz about her daughter donating. 
Celica and some of them are also involved in the St. Jude’s Hospital Math-a-thon through her school – which raises funds for the hospital.   Celica’s family would visit Martin when he received treatment for roughly a year in the Memphis, Tenn. St. Jude’s Hospital.

While Celica does admit being a little nervous the night before about how short her hair would be, her mom tells her that it will be easier to manage now that she is playing basketball. Paty is proud of her daughter for giving to a good cause and doing something most young girls would not.  
“You just never know who it’s going to happen to, maybe somebody in your family,” Paty said. “You would encourage somebody to do it.”

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Norma says that she will continue to donate her hair and encourage others to do so.  “It’s a beautiful feeling, and you know what, it’s hard for somebody else to understand who has not been through it,” she said.

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