WEST ORANGE, NJ — In just a few weeks, Golda Och Academy’s senior class will depart for its three-month trip to Israel or start a formal internship program.
Before the Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) club’s seniors and founding members hand over the reign to the next set of leaders, the group has organized one last fundraiser. In the two years that the club has been in existence, nearly $8000 has been raised.
The founding members of the BCA are determined to reach the $10,000 fundraising mark before finishing their leadership term. To reach their goal, six senior women are donating their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths: Lindsay Biebelberg, Emily Binstein, Madeline Lefkowitz, Jamie Singer, Mikayla Talmud and Emma Weiss.
“As a founder of BCA, I have worked very closely with organizations that help those affected by breast cancer in every way, shape or form,” said Talmud. “While donating money is extremely valuable, it is also important to help out in any way you can, which is why I am donating my hair.”
Lindsay Biebelberg, who just donated eight inches of her hair, said she was nervous right before getting it cut.
“I realized then that I had the immense privilege of choosing to cut my hair," she said. "There are many people who are battling horrible illnesses, and when they lose their hair, it is not a choice. In that moment, even more than in the months leading up to my haircut, I knew that donating my hair was the right thing to do.”
President of the BCA, Shira Kalet, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, knows all too well how impactful a wig can be.
“I witnessed firsthand how a wig can provide a patient with dignity and confidence,” she said. “Every morning we wake up and hope for a ‘good hair day.’ We spend a lot of time in front of the mirror styling our hair and fixing it throughout the day because it is such a visible part of our appearance. Losing that substantial element of our physical appearance can make anybody self-conscious, but a wig provides that sense of comfort.”
Two years ago, current senior Mattan Poller also donated his hair in school as a fundraiser for the club.
“I think his bravery inspired many of my peers to also donate their hair after witnessing what an impact it had on Mattan, the club, and how it touched so many people in our community,” said Kalet.
BCA club advisor Lori Jaffe says she in awe of the group and their efforts since the club’s inception.
“These young women have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about breast cancer in our school, to raise money for research, and to donate to Sharsheret—a Jewish organization that provides support for women who are being treated for breast cancer,” she said. “Each time the club reached a goal, they pushed themselves a little further. They are truly warriors, and it has been an honor to work with them.”
To help spread the word for their fundraiser, the group created a GoFundMe page and has been using social media to solicit donations. The group has also set up announcements throughout school and put notices in GOA’s Student Life Updates.
“The response so far has been amazing,” said BCA vice president Emily Binstein. “We love to see the kind words from people who are donating through our GoFundMe page and are really looking forward to reaching our goal in the next few weeks.”