FRENCH CREEK – Students, parents and teachers at French Creek Elementary School were “cutting up” for a great cause at their school Monday.
Community members joined them as they gathered to do their part for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and help those in need, something French Creek Elementary School Principal Kasey Baisden says is important to the school and community members.
“We had a Relay for Life team for a number of years,” Baisden said Monday during the event. “We are focused on helping those in the community. We are trying to teach our students that everyone is different, there are things you can do to help others.”
During the assembly, four adults and three students donated their lovely locks to help those suffering with cancer. Event coordinator Jessica McQuain, third-grade teacher at French Creek Elementary School, said they have been growing their hair and donating it to help others for about eight years.
“This is something that hits close to home for me,” McQuain said. “I have had family members who have had to get wigs (because of cancer treatments). As long as my hair keeps growing, I am going to keep cutting it and donating it to help others.”
McQuain said she thinks the event helps instill an empathetic attitude for others who are suffering in the students.
“I think they think, ‘I have long, beautiful hair, and cutting it is a way to give to others,” she said. “We usually try to do this in October since that is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”
McQuain said the school sent home letters with the students, inviting them, their parents and community members to participate by donating any hair they had to spare.
“I hope this helps the students have a sense of compassion for others,” she said. “It may seem like a little thing, but for those who receive the wigs, it’s a big deal.”
Haylee McQuain, Jessica’s daughter, is a first-grader at French Creek Elementary School. She said she was excited to bequeath her beautiful braids to help others in need.
“I was inspired to do this because I thought it would be nice to help other people,” Haylee said.
Casey Hamner is a parent of a first and fourth-grade student at French Creek Elementary School and said she donated her hair to help others.
“If it can be of help to someone else, why not?” she said.
Amberly Stump, third-grade teacher at French Creek, also donated her hair during Monday’s activities. She said she committed to do this the next time and followed through with the promise on Monday.
Angela Legg said this is the second time she has participated. Her daughter, Katelyn, a preschooler at French Creek Elementary School donated, too.
“Katelyn could only talk about this event when she heard about it,” Angela Legg said. “She wanted them to shave her head, but I told her they would only be taking off a couple of inches. She thought that was great, too.
“Last time they did this, my other daughter who is in second grade suggested I do it,” Angela Legg said. “That year I gave 15 inches of my hair.”
Becky Hamner, of Modern Hair Design in Buckhannon, donated her time trimming the donated tresses. She said she has been doing this for 12 years, and this is her second time volunteering at French Creek Elementary School.
Upshur County Schools Literacy Coach Denice Jeran said French Creek Elementary School is like a family; this October tradition began years ago when one of their instructors was battling with breast cancer, she added.
“This tradition started when our fourth-grade teacher Christine Hull was fighting breast cancer,” Jeran said. “During her second battle, her mother also had breast cancer. We started this gifting to honor her and her mother as they went through chemo treatments.”
According to their website, Pantene Beautiful Lengths is a charity campaign that allows individuals to donate hair for women who have lost their own due to cancer treatment.
It stipulates that donated hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long that has been washed and is completely dry without the addition of any styling products. Hair may be colored with vegetable dyes, rinses and semi-permanent dyes, but cannot be bleached, permanently colored or chemically treated.
Hair cannot be more than five percent gray.
Donated hair is made into free, real hair wigs by campaign partner HairUWear and distributed through the national network of American Cancer Society wig banks.