For the last seven years, West Side Elementary has participated in the Locks of Love program, which encourages people to grow out their hair for hairpieces that are made for children who have lost their hair because of an illness.
The school has two cuts a year to accommodate their “growers” and since 2005 has donated almost 2,000 inches of hair to Locks of Love, with many of the donors being repeats.
During the school’s first assembly of the year Friday afternoon, 15 students and two grandmothers got their hair cut for the cause.
“It takes no money at all for them to donate to this cause, just time to grow out your hair,” said Melody Shelton, a counselor at West Side. “This is something anyone can do to help somebody in their time of need. What they’ve done is a very selfless thing.”
About 30 students, family and friends grow their hair out for the cause each year.
“Today was larger than any other year in one cutting, though,” Shelton said.
One of the grandmothers who volunteered to get her hair cut was Elisha Shamblin of Marietta.
Her 10-year-old granddaughter, Abigail Stewart, asked her almost two years ago if she would participate in the program with her. This will be the third time Stewart has donated her hair.
“She said, ‘Mimi, would you let your hair grow with me for Locks of Love? We’ll get it cut together and I’ll cut yours and you’ll cut mine,’” Shamblin said. “What Mimi could say ‘no’ to that?”
It’s been almost two years since the 66-year-old started growing her hair the 10 inches required to donate.
“I’ve been wearing a lot of ponytails and baseball caps,” Shamblin said. “People are probably wondering what this grandmother is doing with this long hair, but I wanted to do it with her.”
This is also the first time she’s participated in the program and said that she isn’t aware of anyone in their family ever being diagnosed with cancer or lost their hair because of an illness.
“It is wonderful that they have gotten the children so involved,” she said. “It gives them something to do that’s very meaningful. … It’s marvelous that they are thinking of other kids rather than themselves.”
Stewart, the daughter of Tina and Mark Stewart of Marietta, said she decided to start donating her hair to the cause in kindergarten because two of her friends had decided to do it.
“It takes me two years every time to grow out my hair to donate,” she said.
After the children cut their ponytails off during the assembly, hairdressers from Ponytails and Crewcuts in Marietta styled each student’s new, shorter hairdo.
Shelton said they’ve volunteered their time to participate in the program for the last seven years.