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.