Everything from empathy for family members to the desire for a new look for college motivated four women at Fresno Pacific University to give a part of themselves to help others.
Students Sarah Chapman, Benita Gonzales and Deborah Parrott and staff member Anita Cockrum donated to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children across the United States who suffer long-term medical hair loss. Cockrum donated 10 inches of hair, Gonzales and Parrott 12 inches each and Chapman 17 inches.
The agency meets a unique need, according to its website (www.locksoflove.com). "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."
Before and after pictures on the charity's website convinced Cockrum of the effect her contribution could have on young lives. "I knew people look different with hair and with no hair, but to see it really amazed me," said Cockrum, a 1998 FPU graduate who is now university advancement services coordinator.
Another motivation is that during the last five years several members of Cockrum's family have struggled with cancer, including a young cousin who died last July from leukemia. "I had really long hair, and it grows extraordinarily fast," she said.
Gonzales, a freshman social work major from Visalia, is Cockrum's sister.
She heard about Locks of Love on television. "My sister and I decided we wanted to do something together," she said. "I thought this was something that would help, and that I could do while I was in college." Their mother, Nellie Gonzales, ran a marathon for Team in Training (TNT), a group that runs to support for cancer patients
Donating hair made a lot of sense to Parrot, who was thinking of cutting hers, anyway. "Going off to college you want a fresh look," said the Stockton freshman, who grew her hair with a friend. "I knew it would benefit children and make them feel less self-conscious. It just seemed like something I could do," she said.
Chapman, freshman liberal studies major from Chowchilla, had long hair for so long it became part of her identity. "People have always told me I have beautiful hair," she said. The change became a conversation starter. "Everybody would ask me questions because I've always had long hair," she said. "Then I could tell them about Locks of Love."