VIENNA - Getting a haircut can often be a family affair, especially for younger children and their parents, but one group of young adults took it a step further Monday when four cousins - including two brother-sister pairs - let their long hair get snipped off for Locks of Love.
Ranging in age from 18 to 27, the four relatives have spent the last few years letting their hair grow - and grow - so it could eventually be cut short again with the extra hair being donated to the national Locks of Love program.
The effort was started by Billy Burton of Elizabeth, who was soon joined by his sister, Amanda Conaway of Parkersburg. Her only reservation was the haircut had to wait until after her wedding.
Lyndsay Richards of Mineral Wells gets her hair cut Monday at The Hair Station in Vienna. Richards, her brother and two cousins all had their hair cut for donation to Locks of Love. The stylist is Sandy Dunn, another cousin.
"His hair has been growing out and he's been wanting to get it cut off," Conaway said of Burton. "I said we'll just donate it because I said I would do it with him."
They were soon joined by their cousins, brother and sister Logan and Lyndsay Richards of Mineral Wells, who also agreed to let their locks be cut in a good cause.
On Monday, all four cousins gathered at The Hair Station on 28th Street in Vienna. Sandy Dunn, another cousin, is a stylist at the salon and did the cutting. From 12 to 15 inches were cut from each head of hair.
For most of the cousins, this was the first time they've done anything like this. Conaway said she has participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life through her work and has seen hair donations made for Locks of Love, but the impetus for Monday's donation was Burton.
"I've just heard of people doing it before" and wanted to do it himself, Burton said. "It feels good" after having over a foot of hair removed, he added, but he didn't immediately know if he was going to keep it short or let it grow again.
According to information from www.locksoflove.org, Locks of Love is a not-for-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged people ages 21 and younger with medical hair loss. The custom-fitted hair prosthetics are provided free of charge or on a sliding scale to children whose families meet the Locks of Love Board of Directors guidelines.
Locally, the American Cancer Society has worked with people interested in donating to Locks of Love. As an example, the Washington County chapter had a hair cutting station set up during the 2009 Relay for Life.
Donors provide the hair, volunteers open and sort the donations, and the manufacturer hand-assembles each piece, which requires four to six months. Children comprise more than 80 percent of the donors, making this a charity where children have the opportunity to help other children, the group's Web site said.
Donated hair is evaluated for its usefulness according to the following guidelines:
* The donated hair must be at least 10 inches (preferably 12) in length
* It must be bundled in a ponytail or braid
* Hair must be free of bleach. Colored hair and permed hair are acceptable.
* The hair must be clean and dry, placed in a plastic bag, and mailed in a padded envelope to: Locks of Love, 234 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405.