Some people take the phrase “giving it all for charity” a little bit more literally than others, like Lea Smithers of Yass.
Lea has been growing her hair out for eight years, to the point where it now sits at the top of her thigh.
And in two weeks’ time, she will cut most of it off and donate it to charity, so her hair may be turned into a wig and donated to somebody in need.
This might not seem like the obvious choice for a charitable donation, but wigs can be extremely expensive and many families can scarcely afford the expense, particularly as some wigs only last as little as two years.
It was during a visit to a hairdresser a few years ago, ahead of a friend’s wedding, that Lea found out how difficult it can be for some families to bear the cost of a wig, particularly those that are well-made and sturdy enough to hold together for a significant length of time.
“There was a hair salon I went to a few years ago up in Newcastle for my friend’s wedding … they do hair donations,” Lea said.
“So that kind of sparked the idea originally, maybe when I chopped it off to donate it.”
Lea is also taking the opportunity to raise money along with the donation of her locks. She set herself a goal of $1000, and with two weeks to go, she is almost exactly halfway there.
When she isn’t planning on chopping off her hair in the name of charity, Lea spends her time working with the elderly and disabled.
Although many would disagree, Lea sees her work not as a kindness or gift, but a simple necessity.
“I think it’s a courtesy thing, to realise that not everyone’s the same, everyone’s story is different,” Lea said. “You don’t know what happened to them, you don’t know what’s going to happen to them, and you being nice to them for that one day might change that day for them.”
Lea attributes this outlook to her mother, who had schizophrenia and depression, and ultimately took her own life when Lea was nine.
But Lea remembers fondly the times the pair spent together, and has taken the lessons she learnt from her mother into her everyday life.
After cutting her hair at the end of October, Lea has decided that she will grow her hair out once again to make another donation.
She is unsure whether it will become a regular occurrence, because of the time it takes to grow her hair out, and the fact that most charities prefer the hair to be uniform in colour.
Lea is raising money through Variety’s Hair with Heart campaign.
- See variety.org.au