Giving Back on a Budget Part 3!

If you need a reminder what I’m talking about, here’s a link to the first & second parts for my Giving Back on a Budget series.

Here’s another secret for giving back on a budget: People need your hair.  This method of giving is deeply personal for me, & it might be the most rewarding.  However, it limits what you can do with your hair & you need to care for your hair until it reaches a certain length.  That’s why I think it’s also the most difficult way to give back on a budget.

But, I’ll come back to the “why” later on.

This type of donation is personal for me because my Mom was diagnosed with cancer when she was 6 months pregnant with me.  Chemotherapy took her hair, but gave her 12 more years of life.

I remember how ashamed Mom was whenever anyone outside the family saw her without her wig.  Her personality changed the minute she “put on her hair” – she went from withdrawn & avoiding eye contact, to the amazing, strong, intelligent woman I loved so much.

Between my birth in 1984 & her death in 1996, she wore human-hair wigs to hide her hair loss from the world.  Each wig cost at least $500, even though it was a short, “pixie” hairstyle.  Those were 1990’s prices too – I can’t imagine how much a similar wig would cost now.

Of course, most insurance companies see a hairpiece – human hair or synthetic – as a luxury.  That means they don’t have to pay for it.  I imagine people suffering how my Mom suffered, the shame & the embarrassment, without means to pay for their own wigs.

That’s where hair donations come in!  Two well-known organizations (be very careful – a lot of scammers pose as medical non-profits) collect human hair & money donations.  Combining the two, they make human-hair wigs for people who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

I made my 1st hair donation in 2002, right after my high school graduation.  Back then, the only charitable organization in the wig-making game was Locks of Love.  They focus on making hairpieces for children under 21 years old whose parents can’t buy them.

What Locks of Love does is so important for the children they serve that I can barely find the words.  I don’t think any of us escaped childhood without peers teasing us, at least once, for some perceived “difference.”  Now, imagine what it would be like as a little girl/boy without hair.  The stares, questions, comments, laughter – from adults & kids alike – must be soul-crushing.

Then, early this year, I heard about Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths” program from – where else? – the back of my conditioner bottle.  The company joined forces with several other organizations to give human hair wigs to adult women with cancer – for free:

  • HairUWeave® turns ponytails into hairpieces
  • Greater Cincinnati Foundation works as a non-profit to collect money donations necessary for making wigs
  • American Cancer Society gives out the finished product

To date, Pantene has turned 800,000 ponytails into 42,000 wigs.  If my math is right, about 20 people have to commit to donating their hair just to make one wig.  (Please feel free to correct my math.  Math was never my strong suit – that’s why I studied English!)

So, now we get back to why I decided hair donations are the most difficult way of giving back to others.  It’s because of these hair donation guidelines that I encountered:

  • Donations must be a minimum of 8-10 inches. If your hair is curly/wavy, you can pull it straight before measuring its length.
  • Washed, conditioned, & dried completely before it’s cut & mailed in.
  • Collected & sent to the organization in ponytail(s). The stylist used one of my hair ties to make a ponytail, then cut about 1’ above the hair tie.
  • Loose/collected hair can’t be used. It must be cut off in a ponytail/braid.  If you have a ponytail that you cut off years ago, & it meets the other requirements, some organizations will take it.
  • Bleached hair – even just highlights – can’t be donated. Most organizations have to dye several ponytails one uniform color before making them into a wig.  Bleached hair reacts badly to these processes & it’s more likely to break than un-bleached hair.
  • Damaging treatments, such as teasing & straightening, should be avoided if you plan to donate your hair. Like bleached hair, damaged hair is more likely to break & for organizations to deem it unusable.
  • Some organizations accept colored/permed/chemically-treated hair, while others demand “virgin hair” donations. Make sure you check the requirements for whatever organization you choose before you cut your hair.
  • Dreadlocks, generally, can’t be donated. Matching them to upwards of 15 other ponytail donations could be too difficult.
  • Gray hair needs to be minimal. Some organizations may accept gray hair & sell it – along with hair shorter than the required length – to offset costs.
  • Ponytails must be placed in a Zip-lock/plastic sandwich bag, which is then placed into a mailer envelope, & mailed to the organization of your choice’s listed address. You have to pay for postage.

In most cases, you’ll have to cover the cost of the haircut & whatever style you want for your new short hairstyle.

Immediately after my 1st hair donation, I decided I wanted to do it again when my hair was long enough.  That means I had to keep my choice to donate in mind for 14 years.  True, I could have donated before 2016, but seeing my ponytails made me so proud.  It was worth the commitment.

I photographed the remote on purpose.  To give the ponytails’ length perspective, the remote measures 8.5 inches.

Some ways of giving back to less fortunate people may not cost much – if any – money, but there’s an obvious trade off.  Some require your time, effort, supplies, commitment, or answering a bunch of questions followed by needle sticks.  Some mean you need to make phone calls, ask questions, look up information online, or make appointments.

The truth is this: it’s worth whatever you’re sacrificing.  Whether you give people in need your old clothes, life-giving blood, or the hair from your head, you can find a variety of ways to give to others without breaking the bank.

These are only the low-cost charitable methods I’ve used this year & it’s nowhere near a complete list.  I considered adding food pantry/soup kitchen work, but I haven’t had experience with it in the 2016.  However, 2017 is full of possibilities for donating.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!!  If you’ve had any rewarding experiences with donating your time, self, or old stuff, please leave a comment too!!  I’d love to hear all about how you’ve been able to help others.


Political Correctness & Respect

Try replacing “political correctness” with “treating people with respect.” If you have trouble, there’s a browser extension that will do it for you.

Queerly Texan expounds on the idea of that in this great post.

Queerly Texan

There’s a couple of words/phrases that I hate in the English language and one of those is “political correctness,”  “politically correct,” or “PC culture.” This probably stems from me living Texas and 99.9% of people I’ve heard use this phrase have said it in way that  complains about society moving towards respecting everyone, and mocks the idea of avoiding offensive language. I will never understand why someone would not change the words they use to make others comfortable or to respect them.

I believe in respecting all people. Respect peoples pronouns, and gender, and sexuality, even if you don’t think you “should have to” or don’t believe it’s “real.” (That’s another post in its own.) Don’t use racist and/or derogatory terms to refer to a people group. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t respect others with your words. It seems as black and white to me as not walking up to someone…

View original post 573 more words

Carolina Crybabies

Fascism has moved to the state level now. 😥



“Political opposition is a normal part of democracy. Stripping your opponent of power is a normal part of fascism.” -Jennifer Victor. Associate professor at George Mason University.

Fascism seems to be all the rage with Republicans lately. While Donald Trump wants to limit press freedoms, defile the Constitution, and bully anyone who dares criticize him, the Grumpy McGrumpersons and sore losers who comprise the Republican party in North Carolina are literally stripping powers from their next governor. This isn’t just a state fight, this is national. The Resistance is especially important as the GOP is showing other states, and the future Trump administration, how to dismantle democracy and strip the rights away from any opposition.

Why would the North Carolina legislature want to strip power from their next governor? Oh yeah. It’s because, Roy Cooper the incoming governor and Mr. Rogers lookalike, is a Democrat and the Republicans want to make every a…

View original post 611 more words

Haters In Mourning

We need commonsense gun laws & improved mental health care – not political posturing.



A federal jury in South Carolina only needed two hours to convict Dylann Roof for murdering nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston last year. Dylann pulled the trigger 77 times.

Roof, who is only 22-years-old, is a self-radicalized white supremacist. The same jury that found him guilty on 33 charges will also be the one that decides if he will be sentenced to death or face life in prison without parole.

Racists and anyone who patronizes and tolerates their hatred created the atmosphere for Dylann Roof to kill. You don’t hear conservative politicians campaign and scream for more laws to prevent terrorism by radicalized Christians, like Roof and Robert Lewis Dear.

Dear killed three people and injured nine more when he attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last year. The abortion clinic attack was encouraged by fake videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling body parts…

View original post 374 more words

All I Want For Christmas is….Tampons?

A brilliant way to help homeless people in your area. The post is geared towards the UK, but the need is worldwide!

Please help the less fortunate this holiday season.

Virago Carnival

Having your period is bloody annoying (easy pun, I couldn’t resist, I do apologise). Even with all the feminine supplies, duvets, funny movies, hot water bottles and chocolate one can moderate, whilst still going about your business, it’s a pain. So imagine how much worse it is for homeless women who may not have the basic supplies of towels or tampons, or facilities to change these in regularly. It makes that time of a month, not just an inevitable nuisance, but a dread of humiliation, depression and possible danger.


Recently I came across a site called, it is an initiative started to collect sanitary products and deliver them to homeless shelters.comet-article.jpg

The women that set up this initiative, Sanya Masood and Sophie Harrold, took action upon being inspired by The Homeless Period campaign.

The Homeless Period campaign, an initiative set up with the rightful belief that tampons and towels should be…

View original post 594 more words

Be an Amateur

Three weeks ago, I started working on a short story that I plan on sending to a long list of science fiction/fantasy magazines, but when I sat down to write my story, all of my sentences just read …

Source: Be an Amateur

Only two genders?


If you search on Google, ‘how many genders are there?’ the first thing that comes up is that ‘there are two main gender categories that everyone can agree on: male and female’. The phrasing of this statement alone irritates me, as if your gender identity has to be something everyone ‘agrees with’ to be valid. Although I identify as cisgender, the one thing I can’t stand is people who are ignorant to the fact that gender cannot be defined by two categories.

Physically, you are usually born with either a male reproductive system, or a female reproductive system. Although even this is not always the case; although uncommon, Intersex individuals (who have sexual characteristics that are neither completely male nor female) do exist, so even the argument that there are literally only two physical genders isn’t completely accurate.  But I think the main issue is that many don’t realise that gender isn’t actually defined…

View original post 303 more words