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Errol Hassell students donate their locks, with love

by: Jonathan House, TRESS STRESS — Kathleen Chapman gets her hair chopped and styled by Soheila Rashidi at Errol Hassell Elementary School’s Locks of Love event Saturday during the school’s carnival. Participants donated their hair to make wigs for children who have lost their own.

Kathleen Chapman caused heads to turn as 10 inches of her 'goldish red' locks were snipped away and collected for a Locks of Love hair drive Saturday evening at Errol Hassell Elementary School.

Parents and students alike marveled at the fourth-graders new look.

'I didn't recognize you,' one parent said.

'I've never had short hair before,' Chapman explained. 'It feels really light.'

Like 23 others who donated a total of 228 inches of their hair during the school's carnival, Chapman felt inspired by fellow fourth-grader Brooke Ferguson to donate her tresses for the creation of wigs for children with medical conditions that cause hair loss.

'It makes me feel that I'm helping people that want to have hair,' said Chapman of her reasons for shedding her belly button-length locks. 'I hope that they feel that their hair is really pretty.'

'I hope they think it feels good and not itchy like fake hair,' added third-grader Ashley Edwards, who also donated several inches of her thick, curly, sandy-blonde hair. 'I just hope they are happy when they get the wig with my hair, and I hope they like it.'

As Edwards shook her head left and right, she reveled in her bouncy new hairdo.

'I love it - it's very light,' Edwards said. 'It's not so heavy any more. It feels like my head got smaller. It feels so cool.'

Leaning forward in her teacher's chair, the third-grader admitted, 'I wouldn't have cut my hair if it weren't for Locks of Love. I usually don't like cutting my hair, but I wanted to help the little boys and girls.'

Knowing that her peers and their parents were willing to participate in the Locks of Love event meant a lot to Brooke Ferguson, who has turned her hair loss from alopecia areata into something that makes her feel special and unique.

'I think it's cool,' Ferguson said of the hair donation drive.

Ferguson and her parents pitched the idea of hosting a Locks of Love event to Errol Hassell's Parent Teacher Organization.

The parent group whole-heartedly embraced the idea and invited local stylists and the community to participate in the event.

'It has been an overwhelming success,' said Diane Yoder, PTO president, while snapping photos of everyone's fresh look.

Six stylists from Studio 121 on Scholls Ferry Road and Angelia Roberts with the Hair Club For Men and Women donated their services for the event and set up shop in a hallway and classroom.

'I think it's so great to be able to come out and do this,' said Cindy Kingsbury, co-owner of Studio 121 whose son Ryan attends the school. 'I was so proud when the girls volunteered.

'They were so inspired by Brooke's story that they decided to come out after they worked all day getting girls ready for prom.'

Diana Dirickson, an Intel parent volunteer, said it was Brooke who motivated her to take a turn under the scissors.

'She's a wonderful inspiration,' Dirickson said. 'So many people are attached to their hair. It can be hard to give it up because it's part of you, but knowing it's going to help kids like Brooke makes it worth it.'

Errol Hassell's event was such a success that the PTO is already thinking of plans for topping it next year.

'We had to start turning people away as we weren't going to have enough time to do them before the carnival's end,' Yoder said.

'It gives me chills to see so many people willing to donate their hair,' said Angelia Roberts, who has worked with Ferguson. 'It's an amazing gift that so many kids and adults out there need.'