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Buzzing for Change
April 11, 2011
GW students and alumni cut their hair in honor of cancer patients.
By Jennifer Eder
Sarah Ferst hadn’t gotten a real haircut in three years.
The GW senior had been letting her hair grow out in order to donate it to Locks of Love – a nonprofit organization that makes wigs for children with medical hair loss.
But on Sunday, Ms. Ferst was one of 52 people who cut off at least 6 inches of hair at the eighth annual Buzzing for Change held on Kogan Plaza– a one-day student-run charity event that was started by Ms. Ferst’s brother, Judah Ferst, B.A. ’05, in memory of their mother who died in 1998 of lymphoma.
“My mom lost her hair during chemo, and that was one of the hardest things for me because I didn’t understand what was going on,” said Ms. Ferst, a student in the Elliott School of International Affairs and president of GW’s chapter of Buzzing for Change.
Mr. Ferst, who is now a student at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, founded Buzzing for Change at GW in 2003. Since then, Buzzing for Change has become an official nonprofit and opened chapters at Bryn Mawr College, Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh.
“We’d like to continue to expand and have more programs at other campuses,” said Mr. Ferst, who shaved his head at Sunday’s event while sitting next to his sister.
Participants can cut their hair for Locks of Love, shave their head in solidarity for cancer patients or volunteer at the event. All participants are asked to pay a $5 donation, but most people end up getting sponsorship and raising much more.
Alison Green, a senior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences studying speech and hearing science, donated her hair for the first time Sunday.
“For a lot of people, their hair is life or death. But there are kids that are actually fighting cancer and losing their hair,” said Ms. Green, who cut off 10 inches. “Cutting my hair is the least I can do.”
Seven stylists from Hair Cuttery donated their time to give people their new dos.
“It’s such a worthy cause,” said Jennifer Joyce, a Hair Cuttery stylist. “I think it’s so great that college kids come out and do this.”
Ms. Joyce said she also tries to make people feel comfortable when they sit down in her chair as most people have anxiety before getting such a drastic haircut.
“I make sure they walk away with a good haircut,” she said.
When stylists are cutting hair for Locks of Love, they’ll put the hair into several ponytails and cut each one individually before sealing it into a Ziploc bag.
In addition to the 52 people who cut at least 6 inches of hair, 63 people buzzed their heads, which raised a total of $11,260. All of the proceeds go to Camp Special Love, a camp in Northern Virginia for children battling cancer.
Senior Supriya Shah, who plans to enter the Peace Corps this summer and serve in Africa, has donated her hair to Locks of Love several times, but this year it’s especially meaningful because her mother was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer and will be undergoing chemotherapy.
“My hair grows pretty fast, and it gets so long. I might as well donate it to a good cause and give it away,” she said. “After all, it’s only hair.”
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