It took two years, but three members of the Alfred State College faculty and a friend capped the last 24 months spent growing their hair by cutting it to donate the tumbling tresses to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. The prostheses are provided to help restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.
"Ponytails on Campus," spearheaded by Mark Amman, ASC professor, Physical and Life Sciences Department, grew out of Amman's experience helping in the Katrina clean-up efforts.
"My enthusiasm for community outreach was still with me when I returned to Alfred. Coincidentally, two of my students had mentioned their concern for family members who were facing hair loss as a result of medical treatment. The idea started there and I went with it, recruiting other members of my department to join me. It was something we could do without any interruption in our daily activities," Amman notes.
The four discovered, however, that there was some disruption in their day-to-day lives. They all agreed that the amount of "upkeep" was more than they had anticipated. And although most of them had had long hair at some point in their lives, the memories of shampooing, conditioning, detangling, and keeping it out of their faces, somehow had been repressed.
But despite all the extra "hair care" necessary to maintain the lengthy locks, the group all agreed it was a worthwhile cause and an activity they wouldn't hesitate to participate in again.
Jeanne Hyland, owner of Hair Care, Main St., Alfred, did the honors for the four philanthropists. She noted that hair must be 10 inches measured tip to tip, which is the minimum length needed for a hairpiece; hair must be in a ponytail or braid before it is cut; and hair must be clean and completely dry before it is mailed in. When asked if there were any special mailing requirements, she said, no, she just places each ponytail or braid inside its own plastic bag and mails the donation in a padded envelope to the Locks of Love organization in Lake Worth, FL.