Locks of Love is devoted to helping every child suffering from medical hair loss, thus we do not discriminate as to the cause of hair loss. We list the following information in an attempt to explain types of hair loss and specific needs of individual recipients.
Locks of Love is not a manufacturer of any type of hair replacement system or hair care product. As a charity and strictly a charity, we must purchase the custom prostheses we provide for our recipients.Learn How to Get Involved
Our recipients are financially disadvantaged children, age 21 and under, suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Most of our children suffer from an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which causes the hair follicles to shut down. In addition to the loss of scalp hair, many also lose their eyelashes, eyebrows and all body hair. This hair loss is permanent in most cases, and there is no known cause or cure. Other recipients have been victim to severe burns, cancer survivors, or suffer from any number of skin disorders that cause permanent hair loss.
The children who receive these hairpieces have lost more than their hair; they suffer from a loss of self. Many children have been teased by classmates and/or embarrassed by the attention they receive because of their hair loss. They often will withdraw from normal childhood activities such as swimming, going to the mall or even playing with their friends. While wearing a hairpiece is certainly not a cure for these children, it can help restore some of the normalcy to their everyday lives that most of us take for granted. It is our goal to help provide a foundation on which they can begin to rebuild their self-esteem.
There are several problems facing children who suffer long-term medical hair loss. Most wigs sold by retailers are made to fit adult heads, and are much too big for children to wear. They often require the use of tape or glue to keep them from falling off, and these adhesives can burn or irritate the scalp. Often, the styles of adult wigs are not age-appropriate and synthetic wigs can mat and frizz with excessive styling.
When Locks of Love first began, it was connected with a for-profit wig retailer. In December 1997, the organization obtained its 501(c)(3) certification from the IRS. With the installation of a volunteer Board of Directors, the charity began operating as an entity unto itself under its bylaws and separated from the for-profit retailer. This initiative was spearheaded by Madonna Coffman, a retired cardiac nurse who had a great deal of volunteer experience working for not-for-profits in the surrounding Palm Beach area.
When Mrs. Coffman was in her 20's she developed alopecia after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. With medications, she recovered. 15 years later, her 4-year old daughter developed alopecia and lost all of her hair. Madonna said it was difficult to deal with her hair loss, but her daughter's loss was ten times harder. It was at this time that she quit all other charity work and took on Locks of Love as a full time volunteer cheered on by her daughter’s recovery as her inspiration.
For some time the contents of Mrs. Coffman’s garage contained bins of mail and hair donations. After finally securing donated office space from a local hospital and locating a manufacturer of the highest quality prosthetics, Locks of Love was off and running. Since the beginning, the charity has received a great deal of support by both the media and its volunteers throughout the country. Locks of Love has been featured or mentioned on television shows such as The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, Oprah, 20/20, The View, Jay Leno, Maury Povich, Good Morning America, CBS Good Morning, CNN Espanol and Inside Edition and in national publications including USA Today, The NY Times, People, Seventeen, Glamour, CosmoGirl, Self, Redbook, Woman’s Day, ElleGirl, Child Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.
The number of hairpieces provided has increased significantly since its inception. Locks of Love has recipients in all 50 states and Canada and is working towards its goal to help every financially disadvantaged child suffering from long-term hair loss.
Madonna W. CoffmanPresident
Doris Shell / Dorothy BarrieVice President
Timothy C. LeixnerDirector
Linda BorumGeneral Manager
Lilly RobbinsCommunications Director
Michele ScherCase Manager
Locks of Love provided $500,000 in funding to Columbia University for Alopecia research. 259 custom-made vacuum prostheses/wigs were provided to recipients with another 147 in production and near completion. Locks of Love held its 6th annual 4 day "summer camp" for 15 recipients (and a parent) facing the same daily challenges of living with alopecia. Locks of love also published 1 newsletter mailed to recipients and donors. A new Blog Website and Facebook page was started to better inform the donors on the services Locks of Love provides as well as to share the recipients journey.