Remember to Breathe, 3653 Voltaire St., a natural health center in Point Loma, is working with local salons to offer free haircuts in a ponytail drive to benefit Locks of Love. The charity collects ponytails at least 10 inches long "“ colored or permed hair is acceptable, but not bleached "“ to make prosthetic wigs for children 18 and younger who have long-term medical hair loss due to cancer, burns, an auto-immune disease called alopecia or other illnesses.
Nicole McInerney, owner of Remember to Breath has committed to donating 500 ponytails between June and December. She said wigs require an average of eight to ten ponytails and would normally cost $3,000 to $5,000. Her goal would provide 50 wigs for children, and she has already recruited ten salons, primarily in the beach communities, to participate in the hair-raising effort.
"Almost everyone we asked said yes, or had other big events going on, but were still willing to help in some way," said McInerney, who plans to donate her own hair. "I keep meeting the most amazing people with amazing stories. It touches more lives than I could've ever imagined."
One of those stories came from Jasmine Dearie, owner of Belli Capelli in Pacific Beach, 944 Garnet Ave. Dearie said she can sympathize with children who have lost their hair because she went through it herself.
Diagnosed with breast cancer as a very young girl, Dearie had no hair for 14 months during treatment. Now, cancer-free for 22 years, the salon owner quickly signed up her business to participate in the drive.
"I have friends and clients who have gone through [cancer]," Dearie said. "I just wanted to give back."
Approximately 200 salons, groups and individuals throughout the country have coordinated ponytail events in the past three months, according to Pia McCarthy, coordinator of volunteers at Locks of Love in Fort Worth, Fla.
"The number of people who want to help is astounding," she said, explaining that the hairpieces are designed especially for children. "They are made for the long-term with a special sort of suction cups, so that the kids can play, swim, hang upside down . . . be kids."
Salon Voltaire in Point Loma, 3659 Voltaire St., will chop locks for free Thursday, Aug. 3, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Dearie and her stylists have 50 free haircut appointments available to ponytail donors on Tuesday, Aug. 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. She added that the salon is coordinating with Aveda Corporation to provide ponytail donors with gift bags of hair care products and may add another date.
Getting a head start on the other participants, Teasers of Pacific Beach, 4545 Fanuel St., has already collected 12 to 15 ponytails, though their official free haircut date is also Tuesday, Aug. 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
"We said yes without hesitation," said Caprice Preciado, Teasers' owner. "There are 12 of us here, and we're really into helping out. It's kind of become a cause for us."
Remember to Breathe will be collecting ponytails through December, and new participating salons will offer free haircuts with donations each month. For more information, contact the center at (619) 224-1190 or www.remembertobreathecenter.com.
To make an appointment, call the salons at Belli Capelli, (858) 483-0888; Salon Voltaire, (619) 523-2302; Teasers, (858) 272-1876.