Teacher gets a new ‘do’ for charity | SierraSun.com

Teacher gets a new ‘do’ for charity

Colin FisherVincent Shaffer displays a lock of Mrs. Decoite's hair that he just cut. The hair will be donated to make wigs for children with long-term medical hair loss.

Friends of Sue DeCoite may have a hard time recognizing the Sierra Mountain Middle School teacher until they get used to her new, shorter hairstyle.

DeCoite’s long hair, once measuring 20 inches, is now styled in a short, layered bob, and the 14 inches that were cut off Nov. 20 are in the mail to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that makes hairpieces for children who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.

DeCoite has donated hair to Locks of Love before; however, this time she decided to incorporate her donation into a lesson for her sixth-grade classroom.

“I want the kids to not always focus on themselves, to think about other people,” DeCoite said.

Her haircut became part of a “giving tree” themed project in which DeCoite’s sixth-graders were to brainstorm and come up with their own community service projects. Sixth graders who come up with service projects earn a leaf with which they can decorate the tree DeCoite has hung on her classroom wall.

DeCoite’s haircut was a very exciting event in her classroom. Names were drawn from a hat to select four students to do the actual cutting. The kids gathered around as Vincent Shaffer, Guillermo Monroy, Vicki Pierce and Annie Rodriguez took turns snipping off DeCoite’s long pony tails.

When they were finished, DeCoite was left with four uneven sections of hair that stylist Denise Brown of the Wish Salon quickly transformed into a short bob.

Hair donations made to Locks of Love must be at least 10 inches long to be usable because most of the children served by the group want long hair, and the actual hairpiece manufacturing process takes a couple of inches off the donated length. Donations less than 10 inches are sold to help offset the cost of making the hairpieces the group offers to children in need.

DeCoite, who has donated hair to Locks of Love once before, was inspired to make the donation by her father’s battle with cancer.

Joining DeCoite this year was fellow SMMS sixth-grade teacher Stephanie Bacon, who was also making her second donation to the group. She also decided to incorporate her donation into her sixth graders’ curriculum.

“Sixth graders are really interested in physical appearances,” Bacon said, “so they can really understand how a child might feel to not have hair. They are really sympathetic to that.”

Bacon’s sixth graders were in the midst of learning about cultural universals, issues that all cultures deal with, such as how societies deal with people getting sick. Bacon was pleased to find that after her haircut, some of her students took an interest in donating their hair or finding other ways to give back to the community.

The sixth graders in both DeCoite’s and Bacon’s classes were impressed with their teachers’ contributions. According to Jake Perkins, who was on hand to witness DeCoite’s haircut, “It’s a great cause definitely … and we kind of discussed how we could help the community. If we could help the Humane Society or the Senior Center or something like that.”

That, according to the two teachers, was exactly the reaction they had hoped for.

Locks of Love is a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under 18 across the U.S. who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss. For more information, call toll-free (888) 896-1588 or see http://www.locksoflove.org

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