South Central Elementary students chop off locks for charity

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CANONSBURG – South Central Elementary School in Canonsburg resembled a hair salon Friday as nine students, three mothers and two Canon-McMillan faculty members got a new look after cutting their long hair to donate to Locks for Love.


Locks for Love is a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under the age of 21 suffering from any long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.


All of the students gathered in the school gymnasium to sing Christmas songs led by music teacher Deanna Alchier, who helped spearhead the schoolwide donation. After a countdown by the students, the scissors started snipping as teachers, friends and parents did the honors for the participants.


Fourth-graders Itzel Diaz and Delaney Gallagher sat in awe of their now-detached ponytails.


Both said they wanted to donate as soon as they learned their hair was long enough.


“I thought it would be nice for people who can’t grow hair to have mine,” Diaz said.


“It’s nice for other people who can’t grow hair to have some,” Gallagher echoed.


Alchier joined the students and her fellow faculty members on stage to have her hair cut and donated to Locks for Love for the sixth time. She first donated her hair in 1999.


She wanted to involve the students this time and was overwhelmed by the amount of positive response.


She said the students were eager to donate and help children who aren’t able to grow hair on their own.


“The kids really wanted to get involved when they found out this is something they could do to help for free,” she said.


South Central Elementary Principal Michelle Tomicek said the students were very receptive to donating their hair for children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions or injuries. The school sent a letter home to parents and received overwhelming support from parents and a large number of students willing to donate. Some students were upset they did not meet the minimum length requirement of 10 inches to donate, but Tomicek said she expects many students will start growing their hair now so they can hold the event again next year.


“I think it’s special because it goes back to a child,” she said.


After the initial hair removal, the students and faculty members were left with a bit of a hack job on their head, but the day was saved by two area beauty salons, Barretta’s Hair Designers in Upper St. Clair and Elliven Spa in Collier Township, an official Locks for Love Salon.


Minette Page, a manager at Barretta’s, said even though this is an extremely busy time of the year for the salon with the upcoming holidays, she thought it was important to give back to the community. She brought along several younger employees from the salon to give the girls a new style with their shorter cuts.


“It’s important to make these little girls feel pretty after they just donated their hair for such a good cause,” Page said.


Ashley Thompson, owner of Elliven Spa, said she’s always happy to help with a Locks for Love benefit.


“We believe there is true beauty in giving,” she said. “It’s an amazing thing for these girls to do, especially at such a young age.”


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