Locks Of Love donations questioned

May 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are questions being raised about a well-known charity with a unique mission. Locks Of Love collects hair from donors and uses it to make wigs for children facing medical conditions. However, a watchdog group claims Locks Of Love can't account for millions of dollars' worth of donated hair.

After growing her hair out for months, Soledad Nevarez sat down in the Great Clips on Fulton Street in San Francisco to do something nice. She had it cut off for "Locks Of Love," a charity that makes hairpieces for children who have conditions like alopecia or who are undergoing cancer treatment.

"And I remember this is for children. Locks Of Love is for children specifically. The wigs are made for children and since I'm pretty healthy, why not do it? It's for a good cause," said Soledad Nevarez of San Francisco.

Non-Profit Investor is a San Francisco charity watchdog group raising questions about how much of the donated hair actually is made into wigs. The group says Locks Of Love receives 104,000 hair donations a year, but only 317 wigs were produced in 2011.

"We're not making a judgment one way or another. What we are saying though is the amount of hair that is unaccounted for every year is significant. It's $6 million every year," said Kent Chao from Non Profit Investor.

Once donors have their hair cut, it is sent to Locks Of Love in Florida. According to Non-Profit Investor, the wigs are then produced at Taylormade Hair Replacement, based inside a building in Millbrae. The report says the company manufactures the wigs for a wholesale price of $1,000 each.

Most of the donated hair is unusable because it's been bleached or is too short. But, even so, the watchdog organization says based on information from the charity, it can't account for numerous hair donations.

"Human hair is extremely valuable. It's a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide," said Chao.

Soledad Nevarez says despite the questions, she is happy about her good deed.

"But I still feel good and my hair's short now," said Nevarez.

According to the watchdog group, Locks Of Love says it has provided 3,000 wigs over the years but the charity does not count or maintain lists of hair donations.

Response from "Locks of Love"

There is not now, nor has there ever been missing funds at "Locks of Love."

"Locks of Love" has for over 15 years and will continue to create the highest quality custom prosthesis for each applicant. This process cannot be initiated or carried out prior to the request and participation of the applicant who completes a mold process, chooses the density, color, length and style of their prosthesis. Our recipients include those with the autoimmune disorder alopecia areata, cancer survivors, burn and trauma victims and any other condition that may result in long term hair loss. To our knowledge we are the only organization that provides a vacuum fitted, custom prosthesis, as opposed to "wigs" that can be mass produced and inventoried until needed.

Our commitment to provide a new prosthesis every 2 years until the age of 21 has given these children back the opportunity to do everything other kids do and not be ostracized or bullied again. While we've reached this, our initial goal, we've made an additional promise to them to be the catalyst to finding a treatment and cure for alopecia areata by providing research funds to date of 2.2 million dollars. We greatly appreciate and applaud our supporters who have helped us make thousands of dreams come true.

False claims based on inaccuracies, fabrications or assumptions will not interfere with our commitment to these families.

Madonna Coffman
President

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