Locks of Love event planned

BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. – Heaven hair salon will hold its eighth-annual Locks of Love fundraising event, beginning at 11 a.m. March 23 at the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse on state Route 18.

The event will include hair-cutting, massage therapy, a buffet, live musical entertainment, a cash bar, a 50/50 drawing and Chinese auction. The buffet will be available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a headline act to be determined will take the stage at 8 p.m. Food will be available for purchase from the Roadhouse following the closure of the buffet.

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides wigs to children who have lost their own hair because of chronic illness. This local event is hosted by heaven co-owners and mother-daughter team JoAnn Alexy and April Alexy.

“It just feels like the right thing to do,” said JoAnn Alexy.

Those donating ponytails of 10 inches or longer will receive a free hair cut. The only requirements for donating hair is it must not be bleached. Grey hair is accepted, and men, women and children are welcome to donate. Those planning to have their hair cut at the event are asked to call and make an appointment prior to the event to avoid long waits and ensure there are an adequate number of stylists available throughout the day. Stylists will be available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and seven stylists have agreed to donate their services during the event.

Five massage therapists will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All those who are not donating a ponytail pay a $10 cover charge, which includes either a hair cut or a back massage, the buffet and entertainment. The proceeds from the cover charge will be donated to Locks of Love. Those who intend to have their hair cut, but are not donating a ponytail, also are asked to make an appointment prior to the event.

The event will be child-friendly, with Rainbow the Clown entertaining from noon to 4 p.m. and the Easter Bunny available for pictures during that same period. Those wanting pictures are welcome to bring their own cameras. A special, child-friendly buffet will be available, and there will be a drawing for prizes exclusively for children.

“There will be a special buffet geared toward kids,” said April Alexy.

Those children 8 and under arriving at the event between noon and 4 p.m. will have a special 50 percent off cover charge of $5.

The event also has a large Chinese auction, with more than 50 prizes being donated last year, including Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins tickets. The Alexys are accepting prize donations at the salon.

“We always get new (donors) every year,” said April Alexy. “We love getting new people. We more than welcome any donation.”

A gift certificate for LeMont Restaurant on Mount Washington has already been donated for the auction, and past prizes have included over-night hotel stays and gift certificates for local businesses.

The event continues to get larger each year, having moved to the Roadhouse, its largest venue yet, two years ago. Last year, the event raised $4,800 and garnered 37 ponytails, the longest of which was 22-inches long. There is a special gift basket for the person donating the longest ponytail. Over the past seven years, the event has raised a total of $12,800 and helped residents donate 140 ponytails. April Alexy said a wig costs around $3,500 to make or requires between six and 10 ponytails, meaning the event has helped in the distribution of at least 18 wigs.

JoAnn Alexy said she would like to have someone who has benefited through the Locks of Love program to speak at the event and talk about how the organization impacted their lives.

“I think to have someone talk about it would be that much more meaningful,” she said.

Those who have had their hair cut elsewhere, but would like to donate it to Locks of Love, can drop off the bagged ponytail or braid at the salon during regular business hours.

Locks of Love organized as a nonprofit organization in 1997 under the direction of Madonna Coffman, a retired nurse who developed alopecia in her 20s after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. She was able to recover, but 15 years later, her 4-year-old daughter also developed alopecia and lost her hair. It was at this time Coffman directed all her volunteer efforts toward Locks of Love. The organization has recipients in all 50 states and Canada.

To make an appointment for the event, make a donation toward the Chinese auction or for information, call the salon at (724) 947-7866.

(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at swallace@pafocus.com)