Haircuts for a cause; women donate long locks

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    By KRIS BOYLE

    Kelli Nielsen watched anxiously as the scissors cut away at her long, blonde hair. As the clumps fell to the floor, her eyes widened.

    “Oh my gosh,” she whispered.

    For Nielsen, 20, a senior from Houston, Texas, majoring in animal science, this wasn’t a normal hair appointment at Von Curtis Salon. Nielsen was getting her hair cut for charity.

    Nielsen is donating her cut hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization based in Florida. The organization provides hairpieces for children afflicted with medical hair loss, also known as alopecia. According to their Web site, www.locksoflove.org, they help both boys and girls up to age 17.

    Miken Johnson, a Provo resident, heard about Locks of Love through her counselor in the Young Women’s presidency of the Pleasant View 5th Ward. Johnson said her counselor learned about it from a 20/20 story on ABC.

    Johnson said she decided last spring to ask the young women of her ward if they would be interested in growing their hair out for the organization. Around July, Johnson opened the project to the community, including BYU.

    “We believe BYU is a huge resource of kind women who have long hair,” Johnson said.

    Johnson asked her two nieces, Nielsen and Tracy Olson, if they were willing to donate their hair to the organization and help get other BYU students involved.

    Olson, 20, a junior from Salt Lake City, majoring in violin performance, said she is in the process of organizing an official club for those who want to grow their hair for the organization.

    “I hope more people will be aware of what’s going on,” Olson said.

    Johnson said since they started, over 30 people have donated hair and they have a total of 500 inches. Johnson said their goal is to have 2,000 inches by the year 2000. Johnson said the project will go until April 2000, when the hair will be sent to Locks of Love.

    Nielsen said she was in shock when her hair was first cut. But she said it was a good sacrifice.

    “It was definitely makes any agony worth it,” Nielsen said.

    Donated hair needs to be at least 10 inches long, clean and dry and free of hair damaged by chemical processing, the Web site said. The hair should be bundled into a ponytail and put in a plastic bag before it’s sent.

    According to the site, each hair piece takes 12 ponytails. Donors have been of various ages, but 75 percent are children.

    Amanda Young, 20, a senior from Sandy, majoring in math education, had her hair cut for Locks of Love. Young said she had been thinking of getting her hair cut and was interested in donating it to a good cause.

    She said it was a coincidence that she met Olson, who asked her if she would be interested in donating her hair to the organization. Young said she had no problem giving her hair away.

    “It makes me feel like I cut my hair for a reason,” Young said.

    Those interested in donating hair to Locks of Love can contact Miken Johnson at 374-0454.

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