In an effort to support victims of hair loss, five students and one teacher cut their hair for Locks of Love at Merrimac Elementary School's seventh drive for the organization Monday.
Debra Degenhardt, a music teacher at Merrimac and the coordinator of the drive, and students Marissa Chiarello, Noelle Oehler, Brooke Scheunemann, Diana Atoian and Kayla Flores all donated at least 10 inches of their hair to Locks of Love.
"We're very happy to do it," Degenhardt said. "The kids get so excited. That's a beautiful thing."
Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that uses donated hair to create wigs and hairpieces for financially disadvantaged individuals under the age of 21 who suffer from long-term medical hair loss.
When Degenhardt heard about it from a friend, she said she immediately wanted to donate her own hair and asked to hold a drive at Merrimac. Seven years later, she says it's a popular event all students at the school know about.
"We all have family that has some sort of cancer," she said. "Kids are so sweet and generous. This is the one thing they can give of themselves."
Degenhardt said students approach her throughout the school year to tell her they want to donate their hair. All a student needs is a ponytail at least 10 inches long, as well as permission and consent from a parent.
A raffle was held to cut Degenhardt's hair. Four students were chosen, and they each got to cut off a ponytail from the teacher's head. Students paid one dollar for each raffle and that money will also be donated to Locks of Love. Degenhardt said the school raised $32.
Also in attendance was Tracy Poltie, owner of Tracy Dawn Hair Extensions in Holbrook. Poltie attached pink hair extension pieces to the five students' hair after they received their cuts, as well as to Degenhardt's and other faculty members' hair.
All of the students seemed happy with their haircuts, along with the fact that they were cutting their hair for a good cause.
After third-grader Diana Atoian received her haircut, was surprised with the size of the ponytails that were cut off.
"Oh my God!" she repeated.
But after Degenhardt showed Atoian a picture of her new look, the student smiled.
"It's worth it," she said.