Eleven-year-old Zoe Fernandez of Guyton is not your typical soon to be middle-schooler. Sure, she enjoys playing softball and basketball. And her favorite singer is Taylor Swift. However, what sets her apart from most girls her age is her desire and determination to help children who suffer from hair loss from cancer and other medical reasons.
In the past five years, she has donated more than 90 inches of thick brown braids to Locks of Love, a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada.
When Fernandez was just 6 years old, her parents, Tim and Dana Fernandez, told her about the LoL program.The Fernandez family moved to Effingham County in 1997. They had heard people talking about the organization and decided to look up more information online.
Her father, who also had long hair in 2003, decided he would donate his hair at the same time to ease Zoe’s nervousness. Since then, she has become a pro and has gone back twice.
“It takes about two years to grow her hair out,” said Dana Fernandez.
The locks must be a minimum of 10 inches in order to meet the organization’s guidelines. Having such thick, curly hair in the summer months, Zoe Fernandez was really looking forward to getting her haircut.
“She’s been coming in here about monthly, getting her hair measured,” said Janet Saxon, owner of Snips n Clips in Guyton.
Saxon opened her shop about eight years ago and said she’s probably had 25-30 people come in over the years to donate. She sent out eight braids in the past few weeks not counting the three Zoe donated on Wednesday. She doesn’t charge for LoL haircuts.
“We just want to get the word out,” said Dana Fernandez. “I always see people with long hair, and I wonder if they realize that there are children out there in need.”
According to the LoL Web site, Madonna Coffman, a retired cardiac nurse who developed alopecia — a condition that causes hair loss on the entire body —started the organization in 1997 after getting a hepatitis vaccination. Over 2,000 children have been helped by children such as Fernandez.
When the donations don’t meet the guidelines, LoL sells the pieces, using the money to help offset the cost of the organization.
“I tell my friends that I do this,” said Zoe . “But their hair is always short, so I don’t think they give.”
Dana Fernandez said her daughter loves knowing that she’s helping other kids out and encourages others in the county to also contribute to a great cause.
How to donate to Locks of Love
10 inches measured tip to tip is the minimum length needed for a hairpiece.
Hair must be in a ponytail or braid before it is cut.
Hair must be clean and completely dry before it is mailed in.
Place the ponytail or braid inside of a plastic bag, and then inside of a padded envelope.
If you wish to receive our personalized thank-you card, please fill out a hair donation form, or write your name and address on a full size separate sheet of paper and include inside the envelope. Locks of Love cannot acknowledge donors who do not send their name and address according to these instructions.
All hair donations must be mailed to Locks of Love at:
2925 10th Avenue N
Lake Worth, FL 33461-3099
Please be sure to use the entire zip code when mailing.