JACKSONVILLE — As area resident Theresa Bowman can easily tell you, "Locks Of Love" is in the self-esteem business.
And business is GOOD.
Bowman, 53, a resident of Twin Oaks Health and Rehabilitation, recently donated 10 inches of her hair – TEN! INCHES! – to the not-for-profit business, which provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 with medical hair loss.
Bowman, a resident of Twin Oaks at 1123 N. Bolton since 2006, said when recently growing her hair out, she came to the conclusion it would do others a lot more good.
"I felt like I had gotten too old for long hair," she said. "I'm not young anymore and I thought this would be a really good cause."
The mission statement of Locks Of Love would certainly indicate it's a fantastic cause:
"… To return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need."
Bowman was VERY enthusiastic and happy about her decision to donate. She was equally happy about her home.
"I love it here," she said of Twin Oaks. "At first I missed my old home but now I know I could never do without the people here."
Donors to Locks of Love contribute from across the United States. Donated hair is custom-fit into a prosthetic, with hair sorted by volunteers and the pieces assembled over a six-month period.
Ultimately, recipients are provided with a custom, vacuum-fitted hairpiece made entirely from donated human hair. It is designed for children who have experienced a total loss of scalp hair and does not require tape or glue.
"Most of the applicants suffer from an auto-immune condition called alopecia areata, for which there is no known cause or cure," according to the Locks Of Love" website. "Others have suffered severe burns, or endured radiation treatment to the brain stem, in addition to many other dermatological conditions that result in permanent hair loss."
An estimated 80 percent of the donors are children.
The Florida-based operation began operation in 1998. Literally thousands of bundles of donated hair come in to the organization because of the Internet, word of mouth and publicity from television, newspapers and magazines.
Reporter Ben Tinsley can be contacted by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 903-586-2236. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/bentinsley or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.