While Christmas is the time most children are dreaming of what they’ll get, two young Harrison Hot Springs girls were busy thinking about what they could give.
Sure, there’s not a lot a young child can give away, what with the lack of large sums of disposable income. But Hailey Simmonds, 9, and Sarah Balfour, 6, both had an excess of one very prized item — hair.
Long, healthy hair, in all shades of blonde.
Hair that was nearing their mid-sections. Hair that was becoming unruly, and hard to manage. So, the girls each made a very big decision to lop off their long tresses, to be donated to wig programs.
But this wasn’t a decision they had made together. Though they attend the same small elementary school, their age difference meant they weren’t close friends.
Imagine their surprise when they both returned from Christmas holidays last week, with the same sporty bob — and for the same reason.
For Hailey, the big change came on Christmas Eve. She had been growing it for four years, and her family was visiting from out of town. That family included an aunt who is a hairdresser.
They divided her thick hair into six separate braids, each about an inch thick of strawberry blonde. And then they cut it all off.
For Sarah, it was a New Year’s Day decision. A fresh start, said her mom, Susan Balfour.
Each girl has their own plans for their hair.
Hailey will be sending hers to Locks of Love, which donates wigs to children throughout North America, and Sarah is looking for a Canadian wig program to use.
For now, each girl has her donation tucked lovingly in a box until it’s time to send it away.
And even though these girls didn’t know what each other was doing over the holidays, it was obvious during an interview this week that they were doing it for the same reason.
“They’re going to make it into a wig to give to kids who have no hair,” Hailey said, explaining that “it’s not fair” they have so much hair, while others have none.
“I saw it on t.v. before,” Sarah said, referring to children going through chemotherapy. “Also my Grandma Sue cut her hair to donate for cancer.”
Now that they have this connection between them, Sarah and Hailey have a loosely-laid-out plan to encourage more kids in their school to donate their hair.
Sarah is already challenging her big sister to donate, and Hailey’s little sister is hoping to grow her hair for the same purpose.
While the haircuts took place separate from each other and out of school, Susan Balfour said the school’s atmosphere and outreach project have taught the students empathy.
When disaster struck in Haiti, Harrison Hot Springs elementary students fundraised and principal Mark Classen shaved his head in front of all the students as a reward.
They are also currently raising money for wells in Africa.