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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 25, 2004

Inmate sends salon personal gift: his hair

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

A last-minute gift in the mail on Christmas Eve from the Waiawa Correctional Facility was a surprise to employees at Salon Bobbi N' Guy.

But the locks of hair from an inmate was just what they had been hoping for. That's because the salon is an official site for Locks of Love, a nonprofit group that collects hair to make into wigs for financially disadvantaged children suffering from hair loss because of auto-immune diseases or who are being treated for cancer.

The hair is collected throughout the year and at an annual event, and is sent to Locks of Love on the Mainland to be made into wigs.

The male inmate wanted to make a sacrifice as proof of his sincere wish to turn his life around. So he donated his prized possession: his hair, said Alex Choi, vice president of the salon.

"This guy is dealing with addiction and he's saying in order for him to change he wants to take something from his life that's really important to him and in sacrificing this he'll be able to make changes and make himself stronger," Choi said.

The box arrived around noon at a busy time when stylists were trying to finish clients and send them off to parties and festivities, he said. But a letter with the package was so touching that Choi said he wanted to share it with others.

In a letter dated Dec. 11, the inmate wrote "To change my life completely means I need to sacrifice everything and anything that could stand in my way to a better life, so even though cutting hair may not seem to have the slightest thing to do with recovery, for me it has."

Choi said he was touched by the gift — the first ever from prison. The black hair is about three feet long and four inches in diameter. It would probably make five wigs, he said.

The salon collected more than 300 hair donations this year through fund-raisers and other donations, but this donation is the most hair he has ever received, Choi said, adding that people can sell their hair for $100 to $1,000.

The gift was especially moving for Choi. He said he has friends who have struggled with drugs and have been incarcerated, so he knows about the difficulties such people face.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.