By Rebecca Metcalf
Children With Hair Loss (CWHL) is a nonprofit organization that provides high quality human hair wigs at no cost to youth who are experiencing medically-related hair loss all over the United States. Regina Villemure found CWHL in 2000 in honor of her niece, Sarah, who was diagnosed with leukemia at 3 years old. “This month, at age 40, she will be a 37-year survivor,” Villemure happily stated. Her family couldn’t find age appropriate wigs for kids at the time. What was available was poor quality and synthetic. This inspired Villemure, a former cosmetology instructor and hairstylist, to form CWHL with the mission of “Covering young heads to heal young hearts.”
CWHL is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with administration costs at only 7-8 percent of donations. Compared to other charities, this is admirable. From doing little things like turning lights off in rooms they aren’t using to finding a manufacturer that only charges about $1,000 per wig, CWHL is fiscally thrifty. Money is earned at both their November Charity Ball, and their June Golf Scramble. Also, individuals and salons fundraise for both hair and monetary donations. The Charity Ball is their biggest fundraiser. It allows the children to make new friends, reconnect with old friends, and provide support to those with recent hair loss.
I was excited to write this article because of own experience with donating hair in the past. With other organizations, I have resented having to cut my hair so short. I have curly hair and I look like a poodle with super short hair. Now, I can donate the minimum of eight inches and still provide a short wig for someone. However, as a disclaimer, they prefer longer hair donations so kids can have longer wigs. The goal is to match their hair with what they had before the medical condition caused hair loss.
For those of you that wish to donate hair eight inches or longer, it may be layered, gray, color treated or highlighted. However, it must be clean and dry! Wet hair will mold. Have your hair dresser clip it in rubber banded pony tails or braids.
Next, visit www.chidrenwithhairloss.us, click Donate Hair, and print the “Hair Donation Form.” Mail the form and your hair to CWHL. You will receive a certificate of appreciation in about 10 weeks. Each wig takes 10 to 20 donations, depending on the density of the hair. So, they need all the hair they can get.
If you can’t donate your hair, you can still spread the word about CWHL and like them on Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps you can do a fundraiser. You may shop online for T-shirts, hoodies, patches and rewards cards. Salons can display hair donation forms and host a “Hair Raising” event to collect hair or monetary donations. They may register as a partner online as well. If you live near their office in Rockwood, Mich., you may volunteer on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The staff provides lunch for these volunteers.
Not only is Villemure proud to be a national donor, she is also happy to say, “We do not ask financial questions of any family. We only ask proof of age and medical condition.” Examples of such conditions include, but are not limited to, alopecia, cancer, trichotillomania, burns, birth defects, rare diseases, skin disorders and radiation from brain tumors. Villemure was also excited to tell me about the “Great Cut” produced by the Longhairs of California. This event is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most hair donated. There were 2,834 donations received. They will repeat the event and try to break a new record this year.
As for the children receiving the wigs, they may apply online. They may return each year on their anniversary date until age 21 and get a complete package and wig. The packages consist of shampoo, hair brushes, hair ties, and a beautiful wig of course. Depending on the wig, it takes anywhere from a few days to a few months to arrive.
In 2019, 608 children across the nation received wigs from CWHL. With your help, it can do even better in 2020! When a child’s hair is lost due to a medical condition, the painful effects are far deeper than just cosmetic. A wig will provide comfort and confidence.
Children with Hair Loss
12776 Dixie Hwy.
South Rockwood, MI 48179