Jessica Peterson has donated her hair four times so that a child who has lost her hair for medical reasons can have a wig. Jessica said she isn't done yet, either.
"My goal is to do it six times by the time I'm in twelfth grade," said Jessica, who will be an eighth-grader at South Prairie School this fall.
The 13-year-old started donating to the nonprofit foundation Locks of Love when she was 7.
Hairstylist Deb Stafslien of Deb’s Hair Care carefully trims Jessica Peterson’s hair on Monday.
"My hair was, like, really long," she said. She'd had it trimmed a bit before that but she had never had her hair cut really short before that.
She grew her hair out again and donated her hair again in the fall of 2008 and then again in the summer of 2010. On Monday she had eight inches trimmed from her long, red hair at Deb's Hair Care in Minot. Jessica had a couple of requests for her haircut: she wanted her hair to still be long enough to pull back in a ponytail and she wanted bangs.
Hair stylist Deb Stafslien carefully trimmed her hair and then secured the cut hair with a rubber band. The ponytail will be sent off to Locks of Love. It takes between six and 10 donated ponytails to make one hairpiece, according to the organization's website.
Jessica's mom, Nancy Peterson, said Jessica has family members who have had cancer and a fellow student at South Prairie School underwent cancer treatment. When Jessica started donating her hair, she wanted to help other kids who didn't have hair.
According to the Locks of Love website, most recipients of a hairpiece suffer from alopecia areata. Others have experienced hair loss from radiation therapy and chemotherapy, severe burns or trauma, and various other genetic and dermatological conditions. The organization serves people up to the age of 21. The organization is always seeking donations of hair as well as financial donations.
Jessica's hair is naturally curly, so Stafslien suggested she straighten it before she had it cut. Nancy Peterson said another hairstylist told her that Locks of Love will sometimes dye the donated hair before combining them into a hairpiece. Stafslien said she doesn't know if that is the case, but the organization does prefer that donated hair be a natural color. Stafslien said the organization used to ask for the donated ponytails to be 12 inches long, then it went down to 10 inches and now they will accept 7-inch ponytails.
Stafslien said she has had other clients who have donated their hair to Locks of Love, but it's rare to have someone donate as many times as Jessica.
More information can be found on the Locks of Love website at (www.locksoflove.org)