TORONTO – Canadian charities that make wigs for children in need have seen an increase in donations as some people now live without trimming for more than a year.
Wigs for Kids Canada, a non-profit organization based in St. Catharines, Ontario. who designs human hair wigs for children with cancer and other diseases is receiving more donations than ever as barbershops and hair salons close for long periods of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve seen a lot more now,” Carlo (CJ) Turavani, manager of Wigs for Kids Canada, told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview. “In the past we would get an average of 160 to 180 donations per week, now we are at 200 per week.”
“If you add up that monthly and over the last 14 months, that’s a big increase.”
At Wigs for Kids, children who receive a wig can come to Turavani’s family hairdresser to have the wig styled and shaped according to the child’s wishes.
“Their faces mostly light up, they are so happy,” he said. “Even now, with the pandemic, they’re studying online so they’re all in front of the camera, they see their classmates … through the computer, so they don’t want to be bald when they do that.”
Turavani added that the wigs can also help with bullying when face-to-face lessons resume.
While the Canadian Cancer Society stopped accepting hair donations in 2018, several other organizations continue to make wigs for children who may need them.
Orly Davis, operations manager at Chai Lifeline Canada, said her organization’s wig program had really grown even amid the pandemic.
“It actually started during COVID because salons were closed and it’s one of our most popular programs that we offer,” she said.
“We got hair from Taiwan during COVID in December. It was super cool. “
Chai Lifeline Canada provides financial and emotional support to children with chronic and long-term illnesses and their families. Other programs it offers include summer camp, hospital services, and counseling to name a few.
Davis said Chai Lifeline Canada receives more than 10 hair donations a day, and even some on Christmas Day.
“That’s impressive, I think,” Davis said of the Christmas donations. “The people are very generous”
Davis added that sometimes it’s a bittersweet moment for kids who are given a wig.
“They are happy but they are sad that they are losing their hair,” she said. “It’s quite traumatic, especially when dealing with teenage or teenage children. You already feel uncomfortable with your body. “
A Child’s Voice Foundation, which runs Angel Hair for Kids, has also seen an increase in donations. In an email, Dolores Esposito, executive director of A Child’s Voice Foundation said the charity had received a 20 percent increase in donations and requests for donations.
“Since salons close at different times across the country, the questions come when the salons open and then close,” Esposito wrote in the email. “Most of them start with ‘due to the pandemic, I haven’t had a haircut in months and I want to donate my hair.’ Some meet the requirements and are ready to donate; others undertake to let their hair grow further. “
WHAT IT TAKES TO DONATE HAIR
Depending on the organization, the hair must be at least 25 to 35 centimeters long. Wigs for Kids does not accept donated hair that has been treated with paint or dye, but other organizations like Chai Lifeline do accept colored hair.
“If your hair is colored, if your hair is gray or white, we’ll take it because they color it most of the time,” Davis said.
A wig can cost up to $ 2,000 to make, but that cost is offset by financial donations. It can also take more than 30 donations of hair to create a single wig for a child.
After a child finishes with a wig, Chai Lifeline takes it back and tries to recycle it for another child in need.
“They’re very happy to give us the wigs back when they’re done,” said Davis. “They are just so happy to be through this phase of their life.”