Propped in her chair at the Minnesota Hair salon in Maplewood, 7-year-old Clara Degneau watches stylist Stacey Johnson put the finishing touches on her new bob haircut. With her hair 12 inches shorter, Clara is all smiles knowing it will be going to help kids in need.
The hair will be sent to Ohio-based Wigs for Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides hair replacement therapy for children who have lost their hair due to a medical condition. On her reason for giving, Clara explains, “I really wanted to help the kids. I didn’t want others to be calling them names because of their looks.”
Wigs for Kids has been helping people for 30 years, thanks to hairstylist and founder Jeffrey Paul, who helped his niece after she was diagnosed with leukemia at age 15.
Each wig, or hair replacement, is custom-made to look exactly like a child’s natural hair. Because children are so active, the hair replacement is specially designed to withstand strenuous physical activity such as running, jumping, climbing or swimming. Thanks to willing donors like Clara, as many as 150 kids receive wigs through the organization each year.
Clara’s mother Meghan first looked into donating hair when her daughter was just 3 years old. At the time, Clara attended day care with a friend who had lost her hair due to cancer. Meghan and Clara talked about what donating her hair would mean—that many other children like Clara’s friend would be able to have hair again. She decided to donate 11 inches of her hair to Locks of Love, a Florida-based organization that provides hair prosthetics to children.
Cutting off a significant amount of hair isn’t a concern for Clara when she knows it goes to a worthy cause. At 5, she was ready to give up her locks a second time. “I really wanted to help the kids,” Clara recalls. “Since it was pretty easy for the first time, I wanted to do it again.”
Johnson, co-owner of Minnesota Hair, has cut Clara’s hair every time she has donated. She is inspired by the young donor’s generous spirit. “Clara’s whole goal for donating is that she knows someone is going to benefit,” she explains. “She’s understood that concept from day one.”
At the end of the hair appointment, Meghan carries an envelope with Clara’s hair tucked inside. From here she will mail the locks directly to Wigs for Kids. Meghan is extremely proud of her daughter. “I think it’s great that she wants to do this,” she says. “[Donating hair] teaches a good life lesson, and it’s a simple way to help other people.”
Clara has no plans to stop helping others. She’s decided to donate her hair again when it grows back in a few years, hoping her actions will encourage others to do the same.
How to Donate Your Locks
- Hair must be at least 12 inches long and secured tightly in a ponytail.
- Hair cannot be chemically or color-treated; temporary color is acceptable as long as it is washed out before donating.
- Send hair that is clean and completely dry.
- Hair should be wrapped in tissue paper and sealed in a Ziploc bag.
- Mail hair in sealed envelope or small shipping box.
Hair donations can be mailed to:
Wigs for Kids – Hair Donations
24231 Center Ridge Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145