Four-year-old Emily Mathew and her 3-year-old sister Angelina hadn’t had a haircut since they were infants. Last week, their long, shiny black hair cascaded down their backs as they danced together, wearing matching pink dresses and matching glittery hair bands, in the lobby of the Kennedy Boulevard Super Cuts in Union City.
It was time to say goodbye.
They showed off their matching pink mani-pedis as they posed precociously for the camera and chatted excitedly about the swimming party they were both to attend that weekend since, as their mother Lesley Pallathumadom said, they always do everything together as if they are twins.
“I can send [my hair] to sick babies.” – Emily Mathew
The girls chose to send their hair to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that will turn it into wigs for financially disadvantaged children under 21 who’ve lost their hair to illnesses or medical treatments.
Waste not, want not
“They were itching to have their hair cut, as were we,” Pallathumadom explained last week. “It was a tag-team effort for my husband and I to wash their hair at night, since it’s become so long.”
The “itch” began about a year ago. Her husband, Rajeev Mathew, thought it a shame to just throw their hair in the garbage, and Pallathumadom agreed.
When they came upon Locks of Love’s website and sifted through the photos of the children who wore the wigs, they were sold.
Emily expressed the desire to have her hair cut first, so Pallathumadom showed her the photos she and her husband had found online. After seeing them, Emily decided to wait until her hair was long enough to donate to the cause. And of course, Angelina followed suit.
Locks of Love requires hair “bundles” – the rubber-banded or braided collections of hair from each donor – to be at least 10 inches long. The girls prepared to donate 12 inches that day. It takes at least six bundles to make up one wig.
As she tied up Emily’s hair pre-cut, she asked her daughter why she wanted to cut her long hair short.
“So I can send it to sick babies,” Emily said.
Doing the deed
Emily hopped into the barber chair as hairstylist Harry Eason wrapped her up in a black apron. When asked if he’d seen others donate their hair to charity before, he responded that at least three people had done so in the last two weeks.
Eason cut Emily’s hair above the rubber band and handed the long, curly locks to her to hold as he fashioned a trendy bob style. Her ear-to-ear grin proved she was pleased with the change.
Next came Angelina, whose hair was straighter than her sister’s but just as long. As Eason finished her haircut, she shook her head back and forth and exclaimed, “It’s so much lighter now!”
The girls then placed their ponytails into plastic bags their mother had written their names on – in pink, of course – and they stuffed them into manila envelopes with Locks of Love’s address written on them, again in pink.
As they bounded around the salon, clearly pleased with their new ‘dos, Pallathumadom looked equally pleased.
“We’re so happy to be able to give to such a great cause,” she said. “It’s a very special thing.”
For more information on Locks of Love, visit www.locksoflove.org.
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org