SOUTH BRUNSWICK: Beautiful gifts: Girls give locks to cancer patients

Nina Trach was in tears as eight inches of her long hair fell into the hands of the teacher standing behind her.

By Charles W. Kim, Managing Editor
Nina Trach was in tears as eight inches of her long hair fell into the hands of the teacher standing behind her.
   The tears were not from losing her lock of hair, but for the support shown by 29 fellow Crossroads South Middle School students and female teachers who also went under the scissors Wednesday morning to help make real hair wigs for cancer patients.
   ”It’s all coming to an end,” Nina said afterward.
   Nina and classmate Meghmama Hajan, both eighth graders who are moving to South Brunswick High School in the fall, organized the event with Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
   The project was in the works for the entire school year and gave the girls a firsthand look at organizing and carrying out events and working with a charity.
   Pantene Beautiful Lengths collects hair and makes wigs for cancer patients.
   According to its website, the program has collected some 400,000 locks of hair and has donated around 24,000 wigs to patients so far in partnership with the American Cancer Society.
   ”We wanted to carry on the tradition (from last year),” Nina said.
   Meghmama said two of her close friends organized the event last year and she was a donor then.
   ”They brought the idea to the school,” she said.
   The 30 participants sat in front of an assembly of the whole school and made the clipping part of the final week’s activities.
   Following the clipping, donors were treated to a hair styling by volunteers from Paul Mitchell in Ewing in a shop room in the school.
   ”I was really nervous because I didn’t know how short it was going to be,” donor Sanika Mehta, 13, said. “I felt really good about it. I knew someone was going to get my hair.”
   Sanika said she felt the trade off of her hair donation and the free styling was worth it, even though sitting in front of the entire school made her a bit nervous.
   Those donating were not the only ones a bit jittery during the process.
   Meghmama and Nina bore the brunt of the organizing work including making telephone calls to individuals and businesses seeking either services or gifts for the goodie bags donors received.
   Meghmama said this year’s turnout of more than 30 donors topped the 15 that came out to give up their hair last year.
   ”We really didn’t expect (that much of an increase),” Meghmama said.
   Nina said the experience gave her a taste of what the future may hold and was a great training ground for possible future work with non-profit organizations and charities.
   ”We learned so much from this,” Nina said.
   Despite almost doubling the turnout of donors this year, the school did not top the efforts of the Crossroads North campus, which had more donors.
   ”There is always next year,” Meghmama said.
   To see if you are eligible to receive a free wig or if there are wigs available in your area, please call the American Cancer Society’s Wig Bank Line at 1-877-227-1596.