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Parting with your hair will bring joy to others

Not that terribly long ago, in the overall scheme of things, I was born with a full head of dark brown hair. You know what I mean, the kind that old women coo over when they see a small infant.

"Was she born with all that?" they always asked.

Then, as a precocious toddler, my hair became long with ringlets. I guess this was accompanied by a ton of snarls, because by preschool I was sporting a pageboy "do."

As the years quickly progressed, I found myself in pictures showing a number of popular hairstyles for the times -- "big hair," perms, pixies, feathered and lightened with the "Sun-In" treatment.

Then I got married. For quite a while, I was determined to grow my hair long. But after some uneven trims and just the frustration of what to do with it, I again went through the kaleidoscope of hairstyles.

And heaven forbid that just anyone should cut my hair. I had hand-picked my stylist and only she would ever be allowed to bring shears near this head.

I loved my hair -- the color, weight, bounce and thickness. And I loved people's comments about it.

Of course, I had bad hair days, when I would stand in front of the mirror and curse my hair because it wouldn't do what I wanted it to. But that didn't matter. I was my hair.

Then I read a story about two young girls -- who had never gotten their hair cut in their 10 years -- who donated pretty much all of its length to children who had lost their hair because of chemotherapy.

Locks of Love requires at least 10-inch lengths of hair to work with to make form-fitted wigs for children who have lost their hair due to the effects of their cancer treatment.

Reading this article, and the stories on the Web site (www.locksoflove.org), broke my heart.

Here I was, with a full head of hair, complaining about it because it wouldn't style the way I wanted, and these children had none.

So I donated. Not once, but twice so far. And if I can make it through the "growing out" process again, I will probably donate my hair again.

Now, instead of the rush I used to get when someone would comment on my long tresses, I get a twinkle when they look twice and realize that yes, it is me, when they don't recognize me at first.

"Where did all your hair go?" is what I hear now.

So I tell them that some little boy or girl will be wearing my hair soon, so that they might feel better in their time of tragedy and hope.

I don't need it. It's just hair. And in my case, it will always grow back.

Andi Puntoriero, of Cheektowaga, is happy to donate her hair to the Locks of Love program.

Editor's Note: Doug Turner's column will return next Monday.

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