Locks of Love

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A 2007 'hair donation day' at the American Aviano Air Base in Italy.

Locks of Love is a non-profit charity based in the United States. The organization accepts donations of human hair and money with the stated intention of making wigs for Canadian and American children in need due to medical conditions that have caused them to lose their hair.


History[edit]

Locks of Love was originally connected to a for-profit retailer. The charity attained 501(c)(3) Status in December 1997 under the leadership of now-president Madonna W. Coffman (Coffman had suffered from alopecia in her 20s, and her daughter lost all of her hair to the condition at age 4). [1] By September 2006, Locks of Love had provided about 2,000 wigs to recipients for free or at a reduced price. [2]

Locks of Love representatives are frequent guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other daytime television shows, where they provide haircuts to guests and audience members. The organization was formed to help children with several conditions that cause hair loss, including alopecia, burn trauma, and cancer treatment. Some children choose to sponsor Locks of Love inside of school and donate their hair when it is long enough. [3]

Requirements[edit]

For recipients:[4]

Parent or Guardian must provide:

  • A completed application.[5]
  • Medical information.
  • Financial information, including any documents that verify extenuating financial circumstances.
  • A photo of the child without a hairpiece or hat
  • At least two letters of recommendation from a parent, a teacher, a friend, coach, etc. explaining why the child would benefit from a hairpiece

For donors:[6]

  • Donated hair must be ten inches or longer. (Curly hair may be pulled straight to meet the requirement.)
  • Hair may not be bleached, chemically damaged, or overprocessed; permed and colored hair is recently acceptable.
  • Hair must be in the form of a clean, dry ponytail or braid. Dreadlocks are not accepted.
  • Hair that is less than ten inches or grey is separated from the donations and sold to offset manufacturing costs.

Tax deductions[edit]

As the hair is considered to be a body part and is analogous to blood, any hair donations are not tax deductible according to IRS guidelines but financial donations are deductible.[7]

Criticisms[edit]

Locks of Love has received criticism of poor accountability practices. Forbes and The Huffington Post report that up to $6 million of hair donations are unaccounted for by the charity.

Marc Owens, the former director of the tax-exempt division of the IRS stated that "there are just so many omissions, that it’s hard to say for certain that any of the data on the return is accurate.” [8]

Locks of Love has received criticism for its practice of selling donated hair, rather than using it in wigs as the donors expect. According to the Locks of Love website, some unusable hair (bleached, highlighted, gray, or shorter than 10") is sold to offset the cost of manufacture of custom-made wigs.[6]

According to its tax returns, Locks of Love made $1.9 million from hair sales from 2001 to 2006, and took in another $3.4 million in donations. Besides paying for wigs, the money goes to overhead and other costs, including grants for alopecia research. Locks of Love sends the best of the hair it receives to a wig manufacturer, Taylormade Hair Replacement in Millbrae, California, which sorts the selection still further, rejecting up to half.[2]

Locks of Love emailed a statement to The Huffington Post but did not address the claim.

Notable donors[edit]

All American football player (and Chicago Bears first-round draft pick) Gabe Carimi's maternal uncle suffered from leukemia as a child, underwent chemotherapy while he was in second grade, and lost his hair in the process. At nine years old, his uncle died. He was mentioned often in family discussions.[9] Carimi thought he would do something "that wouldn't take a lot of my time but would help other people." He grew his hair out for 20 months, until it was long enough in 2010 to donate to Locks of Love.[9]

National Hockey League player George Parros has grown his hair long since the start of his professional hockey career, so he can donate it to Locks of Love.[10]

Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler donated 15 inches of his hair in September 2012.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History". Locks of Love. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Elizabeth Hayt (September 6, 2007). "Lather, Rinse, Donate.". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ "FAQ". Locks of Love. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Apply". Locks of Love. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Application". Locks of Love. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Guidelines for Acceptable Donations". Locks of Love. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "2010 Publication 526" (PDF). Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Bay Area Group Questions Donations To Locks Of Love". CBS SF Bay Area. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Brian Mason (April 23, 2010). "Lots of locks means lots of love from Carimi; Wisconsin senior donates hair to charity aimed at improving life for ill children". UWBadgers.com. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Parros Cuts Hair for a Cause - Anaheim Ducks". Ducks.nhl.com. Retrieved June 1, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Reports by charity-monitoring groups[edit]