- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - Six-year-old Beijah Sowards felt bad when she learned some kids her age were losing their hair because of illnesses.

So she decided to do something about it.

Beijah was one of 22 students, teachers and parents who stepped forward Wednesday morning at Ellington School to donate some of their own hair to an organization that provides wigs to kids who need them.

“I just wanted to help other kids who didn’t have any hair,” Beijah said.

Many other good-hearted people — including Beijah’s mother, Alisha — felt the same way and agreed to have locks of hair cut and given to Children With Hair Loss, a not-for-profit organization that turns donated hair into wigs for kids.

Alisha Sowards said she was happy to join her daughter in the hair cutting inside Ellington’s gymnasium, which was packed with students, relatives and other supporters.

“My daughter wanted to do it, and she wanted her mommy to do it with her,” Alisha explained.

Beijah’s father, Clint Sowards, was given the honor of cutting the first pigtail off his daughter’s head before the rest of the work was turned over to a team of professional stylists who donated their time.

Sowards said he was proud to see both his daughter and wife get involved in a program aimed at helping children.

“They love their hair, but really, it’s just hair,” he said. “When it comes down to it, it’s just a good thing to help other people who simply can’t grow hair.”

Wednesday’s program was coordinated by Erica Kirlin, a paraprofessional at Ellington. Kirlin organized a similar venture last year that attracted 19 participants.

Kirlin made arrangements to donate all of the hair, along with cash donations, to Children With Hair Loss, which makes wigs from donated hair and “gives those wigs free to little boys or girls who need them,” she said.

“We just really believe in this organization. They’re helping a lot of kids.”

One child aided by the organization was on hand for Wednesday’s hair-cutting ceremony. Mia Conner, who turns 6 on Monday, is a kindergarten student in Rochester. She suddenly lost all of her hair this year because of a condition called alopecia. Within two weeks of being contacted, Children With Hair Loss provided her with a blond wig, which she was wearing.

Her mother, Shelly Conner, who has connections to the Quincy area, expressed gratitude to all of the donors.

“We’re very appreciative of events like this,” she said. “Seeing Mia get a wig was a big relief. It gave her a little more self-confidence and helped her feel better about herself.”

Seven-year-old twins Brai and Avri Warner of Ellington School stepped forward together to donate some of their flowing locks of hair.

Brai said she wanted to take part “because it’s a good thing to help others.”


Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://bit.ly/1IsVK2V


Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com

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