June 2, 2014 at 1:41 PM
BERNARDS TWP. - It may have been done for love, but that doesn't mean it was easy.
Some serious faces, and even a few tears, accompanied Friday's all-day "Locks of Love" shearing, in which 55 students and teachers voluntarily donated their flowing manes for a good cause - to make wigs for young cancer patients or other young people who have lost their hair as a result of a medical condition or treatment.
Those who donated their hair knew months ahead of time that they planned to grow it long especially for the service-based project. The May 30 event was organized by the William Annin Middle School student council.
However, as the scissors came out - as skillfully wielded by the volunteer stylists from Bella Rouge Salon and Blow Dry Bar in Basking Ridge, and Carpe Diem Salon and Spa in Bernardsville _ the moment of truth's arrival was still a bit painful.
Eighth grader Jasmine Bao, who usually keeps her hair long, according to her mother, Susan, alternated between smiles and seriousness as Melissa Castner, owner of Bella Rouge, shaped her new mid-length style.
A tissue box was handed to teacher Christina White, who couldn't hold back a few tears.
Most of the participants were from WAMS, said Cherie Stappanbeck-Howarth, physical education and health teacher at the middle school. Howarth, who pulled together the project, and said she would afterward mail the snipped ponytails to the organization in Florida, also is head softball coach at Ridge High School. She said two softball team members would be donating their hair.
This is first year the event is taking place, but Howarth said she hopes it will continue in future years.
The salon stylists made their own generous donations - of time, and expertise.
Deana DeRosa, owner of Carpe Diem, said her salon does complementary hair cuts for those clients donating to Locks of Lock, and even will add a free manicure if time permits.
Sabina Gray, a Carpe Diem stylist, said Locks of Love requires 10 to 12 inches of hair to make an actual wig but sells lesser contributions for hair extensions, and uses the funds to create wigs.
More information about Locks of Love is online.
Howarth said one of the staff members at the school made it especially easy to keep in mind the reason for the project.
She introduced Mary Knell, who works in the office at WAMS, a cancer survivor, whose treatment resulted in permanent hair loss. Knell was wearing her own natural-hair wig although it was not acquired from Locks for Love.
That morning, she said, she revised the t-shirt given out to the participants that read, "I gave my hair...because I care."
Her shirt had been edited to read, "I have my hair...because they care."