I recently added an amendment to my post on the SCA LJ community about the SunDragon Locks of Love donation. Here is the amendment:

March 15, 2005: Added the following amendment to this post:

1. Locks of Love does not provide wigs to chemotherapy patients. Their site specifies that the hair loss must be long-term -- since patients' hair grows back within a year after chemotherapy, these children are disqualified. Almost all wigs go to those with alopecia. Although the hair loss of alopecia is permanent, most of those who suffer from it are otherwise healthy.

2. Most children who suffer from hair loss opt not to wear human-hair wigs. Human-hair wigs are very high-maintenance, and are impractical for children (kids with alopecia are just as active as kids without it, see above). Most opt to wear caps or hats. Those who do wear wigs almost always wear synthetics, for ease of care. Locks does not, under any circumstances, provide human-hair wigs for children six and under.

3. Locks does not, for the most part, give wigs away for free. They are sold on a sliding scale. Exactly what that scale is is questionable, because they will not open their accounting records, see point 5.

4. The vast, vast majority of hair donated is not made into wigs at all. Please have a look at the Better Business Bureau's report on Locks. It reads, in part:

In the fiscal year ended November 30, 2002, LoL provided 113 vacuum-fitted cranial prosthesis, repaired 22 pieces, and provided 39 synthetic hairpieces.

113 human-hair wigs in a year is not much for an organization that receives, by its own figures, 2000 ponytails per week via mail. At that rate (when it takes 6-10 ponytails to create a wig) they had enough hair to produce, at a minimum, 10,000 wigs annually.

Even if we allow that some or even most donated hair might not be suitable for prosthetics, this discrepancy is almost unbelievable. Where is the rest of the hair going? The same page provides an income figure for "Hair sales": $150,719. Your hair will in all likelihood not be worn by an ill child; it will instead end up on the head of some random woman who gets extensions at a salon.

5. Locks does not meet the BBB's Standards for Charity Accountability. What does Locks do with the money they earn from these hair sales and from monetary donations? Their total income for fiscal 2002 was $374,543 -- with which, as we see above, they made a vanishingly small number of wigs. Locks refuses to allow the BBB to audit their financial records. They will not disclose where the money is going, but it's not to create hairpieces for sick kids.

Locks is straightforward about some of these items in their FAQ. However, they do little to correct the public misimpression that they help chemo patients, or that donated hair goes directly to seriously ill children.


A note from the friend who sent me a lot of the links and details:

I have nothing but respect and admiration for people who have donated their hair to what they genuinely believed to be a reputable charity. I think that in a cosmic sense their generosity counts for a great deal, and the world is richer for their kindness. I absolutely do not mean to step on Maggi's toes, or those of other donors, by posting this, but it pains me to see so many people's good nature taken advantage of by a shady organization such as Locks of Love. Please, don't grow out your hair if you don't wish to, or bob hair that you love, believing that if you send it to Locks they will create a hairpiece from it and it will be worn by a child afflicted with cancer. That's not what this organization does.

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bertana

July 2010

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