Hair has long been regarded a symbol of beauty and health. Losing it as an adult can be traumatic enough. It’s even more distressing for a child. That’s why seven Stuttgart military community members donated over six feet of hair to the Locks of Love program June 27.
The Florida-based nonprofit organization provides prosthetic wigs made from human hair to children 6 to 21 years of age in the U.S. and Canada who suffer from various forms of alopecia, an auto-immune disorder that causes the hair follicles to shut down, or other conditions that cause long-term medical hair loss.
For Jessica Rasco, it was a family affair. She and her two daughters, Callista, 7, and Mikayla Hall, 11, each donated at least 10 inches of hair. “It’s the right thing to do,” Rasco said. They were joined by Jennifer Zeitler and daughter Emily, 13; Carl Steffen and Samantha Poteete. The group met up for a mass hair-cutting session at a salon in Vaihingen to have their tresses trimmed according to Locks of Love procedures. Many of them had donated before. A repeat donor since 1998 — when Locks of Love first started — Poteete, a Navy lieutenant commander, donated 15 inches, which put her over her goal of 100 inches. For Poteete, it was not a sacrifice. “Your hair just grows … there’s no effort involved,” she said. But it wasn’t so easy for Jennifer Zeitler, as she watched the stylist cut daughter Emily’s hair.
“She’s got gorgeous hair. I’ve been taking care of her hair since she was a baby, and it’s hard to see it all go,” she said, visibly emotional. “It’s a mother daughter thing.” Zeitler, inspired by her daughter, decided then and there to give up her own hair to the delight of the others, who in the days leading up to the event, had tried to coax her into donating, without success. Since retiring from the military, the lone male of the bunch, Carl Steffen, has provided his hair to the charity three times. “It’s just hair, and it grows back,” he said. Because Locks of Love is a program for children, Steffen’s gray hair will be sold by the charity to offset the manufacturing costs of a prosthesis, which typically retails between $3,500 and $6,000.