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Hey Sister, Can You Spare 10 Inches?

Short and sassy, cute and cool, Cosmopolitan says that the latest trend in hair fashion is full and foxy, with cuts that are easy to wear and no fuss to care for. If you've been thinking about a new look, how about a short, smart cut that presents a new you to the world. And when you take that step and cut your hair, donate it to Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that creates hairpieces for kids who have lost their hair and don't have money to pay for a wig. Cancer chemotherapy treatments can cause hair loss and sometimes, hair just falls out for unknown reasons as is the case with alopecia areata. The hairpieces help cancer patients get through some very difficult days.

One of the many ways that local stylists give back to the community is by encouraging their clients to donate their shorn tresses. Rod Rollins, owner of Rod's Salon and Day Spa in Medford, participates in Locks of Love because he saw how important appearance was to his grandmother who battled cancer throughout her life.

"Hair is part of your identity, there are self-esteem issues around it," Rod explains. "When you lose your hair during cancer treatments, it's just another reminder that you are really ill and that another part of you has gone away."

NBC anchor Ann Curry cut her hair for Locks of Love in March 2006 in honor of her mother and sister who experienced cancer. Right here in the valley, Southern Oregon University communications faculty member, Dr. Alena Ruggerio, cut her hair for Locks of Love, too.

In spring 2005, Southern Oregon University student Kate Mulligan gave a persuasive speech to her class about Locks of Love, drawing on her experiences as a stylist and cosmetologist. The speech was so powerful and so compelling, that the entire class voted Locks of Love as their number one charitable cause. Kate's speech has since served as a model of excellence for all of Dr. Ruggerio's classes, and to thank her student and recognize the contributions of Locks of Love, Dr. Ruggerio donated her own long, beautiful hair.

"Hair is connected to femininity and sexuality and my hair is a really important part of my identity," says Dr. Ruggerio. "I gave the gift of my hair, the gift of my vanity."

Curly or straight, gray or gold, male or female, all kinds of hair is valuable to Locks of Love. "We need at least 10 inches of clean hair and it can be colored, permed or bleached as long as it is healthy," Rod explains. "We put a rubber band around it, and cut above the rubber band. We make sure it's dry, put it into a plastic bag and send it off."

It takes 10-15 pony tails to make a wig - a lot of hair. Locks of Love prosthetic hairpieces are custom-made and vacuum-fitted so they aren't like the wigs you find in a store. These are specially made to help kids look normal in the midst of their illness.

Ron wants us all to think about our own children, if they had cancer and lost their hair: "Just think of them," he says. "You'd want them to regain what they lost and look like everybody else." So the next time you get your hair cut, if you've got 10 inches to spare, think about someone who has none, and ask your stylist to send your hair to Locks of Love.

Hey Sister, Can You Spare 10 Inches?