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HAIRCUTS FROM THE HEART
Erica Gerber, Argus-Courier Intern
Locks of Love may be short on hair, but they're long on caring.
Barbieri checks out her dad Johns new hair do.
The duo recently donated their long manes to Locks
Photo by Terry Hankins
After many long months of growing, a Petaluma man and his
daughter asked Kathie Rothkop, a local hair designer at Trico
Salon, to harvest 20 inches of their hair, to be donated to
Locks of Love.
Locks of Love, a non-profit agency based in Lake Worth, Fla.,
collects human hair donations to be assembled in Indonesia
into wigs for children who suffer from alopecia areata --
an auto-immune disease that causes irreversible hair loss.
More than 4.7 million American men, women and children of
all ethnic backgrounds live with the disease, according to
the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, headquartered in
San Rafael. Alopecia lowers the self-esteem of many of the
children suffering from it and Locks of Love relies on selfless
donors to give them a new lease on life.
"Anybody can [donate]," said Rothkop, "but
there are some rules. The hair must be healthy and clean.
It can be colored or permed but cannot be gray, and it must
be a pony tail contained with a rubber band. Then you just
put it in a padded envelope and send it off."
Rothkop has done free cuts for 10 donors in the last month
and has been dedicated to the cause since one of her long-time
clients, who had suffered from cancer, celebrated 15 years
of being healthy by harvesting her hair for charity. The event
was documented on video for a 15-minute segment of "Around
Town" to be shown on Petaluma Community Access. Rothkop
believes this has inspired some locals to donate.
"I've been getting a lot more men than women and kids.
I think it's because of that show, 'Queer Eye for the Straight
Guy,'" she said, laughing.
Once John Barbieri was told about Locks of Love, he made the
decision to let his hair grow until he could donate the minimum
10 inches that Locks of Love requires for wig donations. "It's
surprising how many people don't know about it. When people
find out what I've been doing, they say, 'I want to do that.'"
"He was initially growing it out for a trip we took to
Mexico because our daughters wanted him to get braids with
them," said his wife, Amanda Barbieri. He even talked
their younger daughter, Heather, 11, into donating with him.
Ten inches is a lot of hair to some people, but not to John,
who has a history of crazy hairstyles, including an orange
mohawk that he surprised his older daughter, Ashley, 14, with
when picking her up from her school dance. "It's just
hair. It grows back."
"Hair is a renewable resource," said Rothkop. "It's
like a tree: You can harvest it and grow it back again."
After Rothkop buzzed John, her first "victim", she
asked him how he felt. He simply replied, "Cold,"
but said he would likely donate again.
When Heather sat in Rothkop's chair, all she could do was
nod when asked if she was nervous. When the haircut was completed,
she stared in shock at her new look: Hair that had been to
her waist minutes before was now shoulder-length. After this,
she admitted she might not donate again, but kissed her hair
good-bye (literally) and handed it to Rothkop.
Rothkop explained how important each donation to the organization
is, "A child may need three wigs in one lifetime."
Custom hairpieces can start at $3,000, according to Locks
Hair donations under 10 inches can be made, but this hair
will likely be sold to other wig makers, as a lot of the recipients
of the Locks of Love wigs are girls who wish for 10- to 12-inch
hair. Monetary donations to the non-profit are also welcome.
This is used to pay the workers who handcraft the wigs.
Interested donors are invited to an upcoming "cut-a-thon"
hosted by Redwood Empire Beauty College. The benefit will
take place on May 8 and cuts will be free for those donating
and $5 for those who are not, which will go directly to Sonoma
For more information on the event, contact Kathy Lyttle or
Kathy Gorman at 545-8449. To learn more about Locks of Love,
Trico Salon is located at 200 Fourth St. Rothkop can be contacted
at 789-0697 or visit her Web site at www.hairrific.com.
(Contact Erica Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org)