Ellington School 3rd grader Laina Shields is shown a pony tail cut by her sister Lucy during Ellington’s Cut/Pass/Love event on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Students from Ellington and Washington School donated 7 inches or more of hair for wigs for children. At center is stylist Jessica Garkie, who cut the rest of Shields’ hair. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
QUINCY — Jamealah Raymond headed to school Wednesday for a haircut to help others.
“We thought about people that don’t have hair,” the Washington School third-grader said. “We didn’t want other people to laugh at them, so we’re going to give them some of our hair.”
Washington and Ellington schools held Cut Pass Love events with 50 students, parents, staff and friends each donating at least eight inches of hair to Children With Hair Loss.
The Michigan-based organization provides human hair wigs at no charge to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss.
“They won’t know who their hair is going to, but they do know it’s going to change another little boy or girl’s life,” said Erica Kirlin, an Ellington paraeducator who coordinated that school’s event. “We want to show the kids that there are ways we can share part of ourselves and show love to other people. That’s what we all need to do. We need to learn to love other people.”
Twenty-one students, parents, staff and friends donated at Washington School, with 29 doing the same at Ellington.
“The girls donating are doing it for all different reasons — some for a loved one they lost or who battled cancer and won. Others are doing it because they think it’s a really nice thing to do,” said Nikki Finney, Washington School counselor and event coordinator. “This year is a little more personal for me. My nephew is battling cancer. I’m donating in honor of him.”
Washington third-grader Chloey Daggett was inspired to donate her hair because of a friend that moved away. “She was in a fire and couldn’t have any hair anymore,” Chloey said.
Morning assemblies introduced each donor and the special person they chose to make the honorary “first cut” to snip a small ponytail of hair to be donated.
That first cut was “scary,” Ellington third-grader Kaylee Borovay admitted, even though she and her mom Christine had donated their hair together once before and did it again on Wednesday.
“I feel bad for people who don’t have hair,” said Kaylee.
After the first cuts, a small army of stylists at each school took charge to finish the cut and provide a new shorter style for each donor.
Stylist Cheryl Ift, who goes to the same church as the Borovays, worked on Kaylee’s hair.
“I’m so glad I’m a part of this,” Ift said.
“It’s going to be different,” Kaylee’s mom Christine Borovay said about both of them having short hair, but after watching family members battle cancer, mother and daughter wanted to help.
“I normally grow out my hair really long and end up cutting it anyway, so why not donate it to a good cause,” Borovay said. “We usually end up growing it out again, so more than likely, we’ll continue donate and make it a tradition.”
Kirlin has been donating her hair since college, and she’d planned a donation back when she was working at Washington School. After having to cancel two haircut appointments, she ended up talking to Finney and found they both had the same goal of helping others with their hair.
“We joined forces and thought it would be neat if we would do it in front of the school and inspire others. Then we thought what if we get other girls to donate,” Finney said. “That’s how it started six years ago.”
The events have grown to include the entire school with posters for each donor and a parade at the end of the day at Ellington for participants to show off their new styles.
“They’re excited to get a haircut,” said Alaina Wagner, a stylist for the second time at Washington’s event. “I just don’t know if the understand how important it is, how great of a thing it is for them to do this.”