ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — With the beginning of the new school year just a week away, students in Baldwin County are beginning to turn from summer mode to fall mode in preparation for the coming …
ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — With the beginning of the new school year just a week away, students in Baldwin County are beginning to turn from summer mode to fall mode in preparation for the coming year.
For many students, preparation includes getting a haircut. For 14-year-old Donny “D.J.” Payne of Silverhill, an incoming freshman at Robertsdale High School, turns out it’s a requirement.
After finishing the eighth grade as a straight A student, excelling in band, cross country and track at Central Baldwin Middle School, Payne also decided to try his hand with the Naval ROTC at RHS.
That meant that he would have to cut his more than foot-long blond locks.
“I was going to cut it a year ago, but I decided to let it grow another year,” he said. The reason? He wanted to grow his hair long enough to done it to provide wigs for children with cancer.
Initially, he was planning to donate his hair to Locks of Love, but while doing research, his father, Tod Payne, came across the organization Wigs for Kids, a national organization developed by a successful Ohio hairdresser Jeffrey Paul, who founded the organization 30 years ago for his 15-year-old niece who had cancer.
“There’s nothing wrong with Locks of Love,” said Tod Payne. “They’re a great organization that has helped a lot of people, but there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay for a wig and we wanted to donate to an organization that does not charge for wigs.”
According to their website, wigsforkids.org, in order to donate, hair has to be a minimum of12 inches in length. Most children request 15 inches.
Hair must be clean and dry because wet hair will mold during the shipping process. Hair cannot be permed, color-treated or highlighted, but temporary coloring or highlights that will wash out are acceptable.
Hair must be tied into at least four sections around the head and separated into three sections using rubber bands. Hair is then cut and sealed in a plastic storage bag for transport.
Larry Ryan at Mark’s Barber Shop in Robertsdale did the cutting after Payne’s mother, Jacqueline made the ponytails.
“He has a lot of experience with military haircuts,” said ROTC instructor Petty Officer Edward Theodoro. “He takes care of a lot of our cadets so when they approached me about where to go, this was the logical choice.”
An 18-year veteran barber, Ryan said he has had experience before, cutting hair for Locks of Love, but this is his first time cutting hair for Wigs for Kids.
“I was going to have to get my hair cut anyway,” Payne said, “so I decided, why not donate my hair to an organization where it can help other kids. I wanted it to go where it would do the most good.”