Wigs made from donated hair help sick kids get their confidence back.
For her prom last spring, Chelsea decided to go blonde and get an “up do” at the hairdresser. That’s not unusual for most young women, but it was for Chelsea who started losing her hair at the age of three due to alopecia, a genetic hair loss condition. So the hair Chelsea had styled was a wig, donated to her by the Angel Hair for Kids program. “Getting a wig from Angel Hair really boosted my confidence,” says Chelsea.
Since 2005, the Angel Hair for Kids program has been providing wigs to financially disadvantaged kids who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments, conditions such as alopecia, and even burns. Angel Hair is run by A Child`s Voice Foundation, a national, not-for-profit organization that provides programs to support the physical and emotional well being of needy kids (see sidebar). These programs are not available through the government. “We strive to open a door when all others have closed,” says Nicole Sykes, director of communications and program development.
A new wig can help a child feel more like herself again during a very difficult, upsetting and sometimes-painful time in her life. Kids who receive wigs are often overwhelmed, says Sykes. “We watch their faces light up as they look in the mirror.” They talk about how happy it makes them, and later, how it has changed their lives and given them more confidence. “One of the teenage girls was so happy she could style her hair again and have fun that she donated her own hair back to the program when it grew in again,” reports Sykes.
Making the wigs
Angel Hair does not receive any funding from government or charitable sources and so relies on donations of hair and money to be able to provide its services to needy kids.
It usually takes between eight and 12 donated ponytails to make a wig, which is produced on an on-demand basis. “As the wigs are made from human hair, we don’t want them on the shelf for very long,” explains Sykes. “They require maintenance and regular shampooing.” The donated hair is weighed and sorted by colour. It costs about $800 to manufacture a wig.
The Angel Hair program has grown steadily from its beginnings, providing services to 150 kids to date and expanding into new geographical areas. “We have been able to reach children in small towns who have little access to support,” says Sykes. “Donations are coming in from across the country. It is a program that allows you to tangibly give of yourself knowing your donation will go directly to a child in need and make a substantial difference in his/her life.”
Every year, Angel Hair receives an increased number of requests for wigs. Holding an Angel Hair fundraiser is a great way to raise donations of hair or money or both. A Child’s Voice will send out a fundraising package to help you organize the event, with hair donation and fundraising guidelines, event checklist, permission forms, media tips, fact sheet, press release and more.
Last August, brother and sister team Ciara, 22, and Sean Crowley, 19, held a fundraiser in honour of their parents. Their father died of cancer 14 years ago, and their mother was recently diagnosed with the disease. After a night of musical performances by their friends, Sean had his 11” hair cut and Ciara had her 16” hair cut on stage in a grand finale. They also collected items from local businesses to raffle off, raising a total of $2,600.
“It was so exciting,” says Ciara. “We’d each been growing our hair for a few years and to finally realize it would be going to a child in need, and to raise three times the amount of money than we expected, was fantastic!”
If you’d like to learn more about Angel Hair for Kids, call 1-888-837-3354 or visit www.achildsvoicefoundation.ca.
In addition to Angel Hair for Kids, A Child`s Voice Foundation operates two other programs:
Kids Life-Line provides services for sick or disabled children who have an immediate, essential and sometimes critical need. The foundation provides medications, small medical equipment, limited in-home nursing care or therapy, transportation, specialized furniture, and more.
Kids Life Skills Club supports life skills development for financially disadvantaged children, many of whom have faced, or are facing, an illness or disability. This program helps provide funding for specialized programs, therapies or other related care that will enhance quality of life and improve long-term life skills.