"Locks of Love" accepting donations of hair

SCAdians: Thinking of cutting your long hair? If you plan to cut 10 inches or more of your hair, consider donating it to Locks of Love, a "public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis."

Guidelines, including a video, for donating hair are available on the organization's website.

From the website:

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.

Mission Statement
Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.

Is this the best place to donate?

There are some concerns with Locks of Love -- read more-New York Times article

Please read further before donating to this organization


Aquilina of the Sea Cliffs

Some comments on Locks of Love

1. Locks of Love does not provide wigs to chemotherapy patients. Their site specifies that the hair loss must be long-term -- since patients' hair grows back within a year after chemotherapy, these children are disqualified. Almost all wigs go to those with alopecia. Although the hair loss of alopecia is permanent, most of those who suffer from it are otherwise healthy.

2. Most children who suffer from hair loss opt NOT to wear human-hair wigs. Human-hair wigs are very high-maintenance, and are impractical for children (kids with alopecia are just as active as kids without it, see above). Most opt to wear caps or hats. Those who do wear wigs almost always wear synthetics, for ease of care. Locks does not, under any circumstances, provide human-hair wigs for children six and under.

3. Locks of Love does not, for the most part, give wigs away for free. They are sold on a sliding scale. Exactly what that scale is is questionable, because they will not open their accounting records, see point 5 below.

4. The vast, vast majority of hair donated is not made into wigs at all. Please have a look at the Better Business Bureau's report on Locks. It reads, in part:
In the fiscal year ended November 30, 2002, LoL provided 113 vacuum-fitted cranial prosthesis, repaired 22 pieces, and provided 39 synthetic hairpieces.
113 human-hair wigs in a year is not much for an organization that receives, by its own figures, 2000 ponytails per week via mail. At that rate (when it takes 6-10 ponytails to create a wig) they had enough hair to produce, at a minimum, 10,000 wigs annually.

Even if we allow that some or even most donated hair might not be suitable for prosthetics, this discrepancy is almost unbelievable. Where is the rest of the hair going? The same page provides an income figure for "Hair sales": $150,719. Your hair will in all likelihood not be worn by an ill child; it will instead end up on the head of some random woman who gets extensions at a salon.

5. Locks of Love does NOT meet the BBB's Standards for Charity Accountability. What does Locks do with the money they earn from these hair sales and from monetary donations? Their total income for fiscal 2002 was $374,543 -- with which, as we see above, they made a vanishingly small number of wigs. Locks refuses to allow the BBB to audit their financial records. They will not disclose where the money is going, but it's not to create hairpieces for sick kids.