For many women, their hair is many things—a “crowning glory,” a “mop” or a “bird’s nest.” They wash it, style it, primp it, curse it, but on September 23, a group of women will cut it off and call it something else…a gift, to make a cancer patient feel like herself again.
For the fifth year, Oregon Women’s Sailing Association (OWSA) will be collecting ponytails for Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. Through a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths helps women undergoing cancer treatment by donating free real-hair wigs. Real-hair wigs are expensive and many women with cancer can’t afford them. Pantene has relied on ponytail donations from women, children and even men to make the 18,000 wigs that have been distributed across the country since 2006.
Former OWSA member Anne West organized the collection campaign, The Kindest Cut, after her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, 89 ponytails have been donated—enough to provide free wigs to 14 women undergoing cancer treatment. The day of the event, professional stylists bring their equipment, set up stations and give hair donors a haircut and style—free of charge. Shirley Sanders, coordinator of The Kindest Cut, gave 10 inches of her own hair at last year’s event. “The stylists’ dedication has been amazing,” Ms. Sanders said. “One of them will be volunteering for the fifth time.”
To be eligible for donation, hair must be at least 8 inches long, free of permanent color, bleach or other chemical treatments, and no more than 5% gray. It takes at least six ponytails to make a wig. Ponytails are combined and then processed and dyed to the same shade.
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