The hair cascading down the backs of the girls in Carol Lloyd’s fourth-grade class last spring provided the inspiration for Wednesday’s visit to Panache hair salon.
The Vichy Elementary School teacher and seven of her students were prepared to have their long locks cut and donated to a nonprofit group that turns hair into wigs for young cancer patients.
“When I saw how many girls had long hair in my class, I thought, ‘Wow, what a great cause we can do. We can help all the girls grow their hair out and hopefully they’ll be able to donate it by the summer, and we can make a really good community effort to help other kids in need,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd, a Vichy teacher for nine years, asked for volunteers among fourth-grade girls to donate their hair to the Florida-based charity Locks of Love.
On Wednesday morning, Lloyd, her daughter Emma and a half-dozen preteen girls from the school seated themselves in salon chairs as stylists cut ponytails of 10 inches or more.
The tied, bagged clippings taken from the Vichy students are to be sent by Locks of Love to Taylormade Hair Replacement of Millbrae, which weaves the hair into wigs for patients undergoing cancer treatments or suffering from alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that triggers spontaneous balding.
Lloyd originally planned for the girls to donate their hair in May, but delayed the ceremony to August to let them appear in end-of-year dance recitals and class pictures unshorn. “It also let some girls who didn’t have enough hair get some time to grow it out,” she added.
The gifts had a deep resonance for teacher and pupils alike. Several of the students said the plight of a schoolmate, Mikyla Ross, enduring treatment for leukemia — and spending part of her third-grade year in 2011-12 bald and in a wheelchair — inspired them to help others like her.
“I was glad people were supporting her and she was never left alone,” Maya Douglas, a student of Lloyd’s who turns 10 next week, said as she waited her turn to shorten her straight black hair for the first time in three years.
“I’m excited, but a little bit sad because I’m gonna miss my hair,” she admitted, though she flashed a smile doing so.
Cancer has reached into the Lloyd’s own family, giving the teacher and her daughter extra incentive.
“We’ve talked about Emma doing this even before,” Lloyd said, 20 minutes after getting up from the stylist’s chair where her blond-brown locks had been trimmed to half their former down-the-back length.
“Her grandma had breast cancer two years ago, and Emma saw her go through losing her hair and wearing the wig. So in our family, it hits home.”