When junior Megan Dougherty walked by tables set up in the North Foyer on Monday, she thought she would only get a haircut, but ended up donating 8 inches at the Shoshana Rudnick Inch-a-Thon.
“I’ve been growing my hair really long for awhile in hopes to donate, but I wasn’t planning on today,” Dougherty said. “I was going to wait until next year.”
Members of the Ithaca College community donated more than 900 inches of hair during the Inch-a-Thon sponsored by Hillel.
Michael Faber, the Jewish chaplain, said 1 inch of hair is equal to $1, so the event raised about $900.
This year the event raised money for two charities — Locks of Love in Florida and Zichron Menachem, a similar charity in Israel. Both organizations provide wigs for children with cancer, and Locks of Love also provides wigs for children with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder which causes baldness.
Faber said approximately 70 to 80 people attended the event. He said the two longest braids contributed were 16 inches long. The minimum requirement for donation was 8 inches.
Shoshana Rudnick ’05 was Hillel’s social action coordinator in 2003 and did most of the planning for the organization. During a leadership retreat, she thought about starting Locks of Love at the college.
“This is such a thing that people can do to give to others that are less fortunate,” Rudnick said.
She said Ithaca was the first college in the nation with this kind of program. Last spring, Rudnick, who currently works at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, decided to endow the program so it could continue in the future.
“I decided that [because] it was my idea and it was my inception … it should be something that Ithaca College had forever, and that’s why I endowed the program to be the Shoshana Rudnick Inch-a-Thon,” Rudnick said.
Faber said last year so many people wanted to donate that Hillel decided to hold two events, one each semester. He said Hillel might do the same thing this year.
“There are always going to be more people who are waiting for their hair to get longer anyway,” Faber said. “We had quite a number of people who’ve said, ‘Ah, I’m going to let it grow another 4 inches.’”
Alyia Bettman, a sophomore art education major, said some students were nervous about donating and needed moral support.
“Everyone who donated came with a friend,” Bettman said. “Everyone had to call their boyfriend, call their mom [or] call their friend. It was funny. I’m proud of everyone who [donated].”
Senior Max Hann had already donated his hair to Locks of Love several years ago and wanted to do it again.
“[The event] gives me incentive to cut it,” Hann said. “I saw the sign and I’m like ‘all right, it’s all or nothing, I’ll just get it cut off.’”
Faber thinks the Inch-a-Thon provides students with a unique way to help others.
“You’re actually giving something of yourself,” he said. “[You’re giving your] own DNA to make somebody a little happier in the world.”
Joey Cicconi, a barber in Ithaca who has volunteered at the Inch-a-Thon since 2003, stood on his feet cutting hair all day for the cause.
“I’m in the business of people’s fashion sense about their hair, and when people lose their hair, it certainly has a lot to do with their self-image,” Cicconi said. “Receiving this gift is a tremendous thing.”