HILLSBOROUGH: Elementary pupils cut, donate their hair for a good cause

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Courtesy photo
Sydney Sowers, a fourth-grader at Amsterdam Elementary School, holds her pony tails above her head during the annual hair cutting celebration to benefit Wigs for Kids last Friday. (Courtesy photo)

Clutching her pony tail up high, Amsterdam Elementary School fourth grader Sydney Sowers was showered with cheerful excitement from her peers last Friday, as she and some of her fellow classmates gave locks of their own hair to help other children living with hair loss.

The show of selflessness from 19 students, two teachers, two former students and one parent were part of a yearly hair donation ceremony to benefit Wigs for Kids, a non-profit organization that makes hairpieces for children.

“Kids are very aware of things in the world that are happening,” fourth grade teacher Lisa Caudill, who coordinates the drive, said. “They’re aware of other peoples’ challenges and they want very desperately to play a part in helping others in a time of need. It just goes to show that when given the opportunity to do so, they will rise to the occasion.”

For the 15th year, students at AES have participated in the annual drive that Caudill “accidentally” began when she first started teaching at the school in 2003. At that time, she said she was growing out her hair to donate some of it to Locks of Love, a similar, national nonprofit when she shared her intentions with her class.

“I shared with my students that I was going to donate my hair when it became long enough and they were hooked,” she said.

What started as a passing comment turned into a classroom project, as Caudill said students began measuring her hair, encouraging her to keep it up and showed earnest interest about the organization. Eventually, she decided to have her hair cut in a classroom ceremony by the mother of one of her students, who worked as a hair stylist.

Later that year, some of her students decided to follow suit and they also held a small in-class ceremony. Word spread and the following year, Caudill got the green light from the school to start the hair donation program.

“It just kind of caught on,” she said. “It has kind of taken on a life of its own. This has become such a wonderful part of our school that I just can’t stop it and I wouldn’t dream of stopping it now.”

This year, approximately 276 inches of hair were collected. Since those first in-class ceremonies, officials said the school’s fourth-grade classes have donated nearly 7,500 inches of hair.

“This is one of the things I am most proud of in all of my years of teaching,” she said. “I love the fact that students are given the opportunity to leave a legacy behind after they’ve come and gone through our hallways. They’re bringing that spirit of generosity with them.”

Along with this year’s hair donations, Caudill said the drive also managed to collect approximately $1,100 in monetary donations through a hair extension fundraiser, which gave students and staff the chance to purchase pink or red hair extensions.

Hair Plus, a local hair salon in Hillsborough, assisted in this year’s hair drive by not only bonding the extensions to peoples’ hair, but also taking the time to cut the 24 hair donations on June 1.

Looking back over the last 15 years of hair donation drives, Caudill said she was incredibly proud of all of her students, who she said deserved all of the credit.

“I think the thing that’s most touching about the program is that it’s kids helping other kids,” she said. “I think the program will live on long after I am a part of the Hillsborough Township School District. It has a life of its own, it lives and breathes and it’s a part of every fiber of our school.”