Ninilchik woman donates her hair

Taking a cut for a good cause

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Do you have any spare hair to share?

Becky Hilbrink of Ninilchik gave up her long, wavy tresses to the charity Locks of Love.

Tuesday afternoon she sat before the mirror while her friend, Anne Forgue, the owner of New Millennium salon in Soldotna, took out her big shears and cut off more than a foot of hair. Two thick brunette ponytails went into a plastic bag, labeled for shipment to Florida.

Hilbrink said she had been considering cutting her hair anyway, when she chanced upon information about the charity in the newsletter of the Homer Infant Learning Program. She saw it as an opportunity to do something for somebody else.

"I donate blood. Why can't I donate hair?" she asked.

Locks of Love is a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children across the U.S. suffering from long-term medical hair loss. It uses donated hair to make quality wigs.

Many of its young clients have an unusual condition called alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss. It has no known cause or cure, according to the organization's Web site.

Locks of Love began in 1997 and has helped more than 400 children so far. Most of the hair donors are other children, it said.

Hilbrink is an instructor at Kenai Peninsula College. She said she does not have any personal experience with such children, but she has 14-month-old twins who went through medical difficulties when they were born prematurely. She is grateful that they are healthy now and more than eager to do whatever she can to help other children in need, she said.

Her long hair was starting to get in the way. Her children pulled it, it fell in the bath water when she bathed them, and she had to braid it at night to keep it from wrapping around her neck as she slept. Now she is looking forward to spring with a short cut.

"It won't be so hot. It was like wearing a big, wool blanket," she said.

"I hadn't really had a drastic haircut in five years."

When Hilbrink found out about Locks for Love, she measured hers and discovered it was long enough to qualify. She resolved to donate it for the good cause.

Forgue, who has known Hilbrink for nearly 20 years, offered to do the cut free for the charity.

She divided the hair into two fat ponytails and measured them before snipping. One was 12.5 inches long and the other 15 inches long.

Locks of Love asks that donated hair be at least 10 inches long, clean, dry and undamaged by chemical processing.

Hilbrink and Forgue said they hope the haircut will only be the first of many.

They want to get the word out and encourage other women with long hair to consider Locks for Love. Forgue has offered to donate such cuts.

"This is the first time for both of us," Hilbrink said. "I really want to generate some other donations."

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