Student group shears hair for charity

By Olivia Garber

Krystle Heffner sat demurely in the chair, occasionally taming her wind-tousled hair. The… Krystle Heffner sat demurely in the chair, occasionally taming her wind-tousled hair. The Pitt sophomore’s medium brown crop swung just below the chin.

The 10 inches she’d just had chopped off sat sealed in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag a few feet away.

“I haven’t seen a mirror yet, but I think I’ll be okay,” Heffner said.

Heffner was one of about 10 women to donate hair during the charity Buzzing4Change’s fundraiser for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. The event was held yesterday on the William Pitt Union lawn to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer.

Amanda Russell, president of Pitt’s chapter of Buzzing4Change, began planning for the event in 2009. Her friend Judah Ferst got the idea to form Buzzing4Change in 2002 while he was a student at George Washington University.

Ferst, who graduated in 2005, wanted to increase support for cancer patients, as well as honor his mother’s memory — she died when he was 15.

Buzzing4Change currently has chapters in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., but Ferst hopes to spread the organization to colleges nationwide.

Raising money for a cause

The group set up white plastic buckets around registration tables — where participating students had to sign a consent form — and near the buffet table so students could make cash donations.

During the four-hour event, Russell said the cash donations totaled about $800. Buzzing4Change also raised money online. Russell estimated that Pitt’s Buzzing4Change has raised more than $2,000, although it will continue to accept donations until the end of May, she said.

The goal is to raise $10,000 and enough hair to create a full wig. It takes 12 people to donate 10 inches each to create a wig, Thurton said.

Buzzing4Change will give the financial donations to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and the donated hair to Locks of Love.

Ferst said the money raised will not go toward research, but for toys and other items that he hopes will improve the lives of children cancer patients.

Making the cut

While the event did buzz a few heads, most participants signed up for a free haircut, sponsored by Supercuts — but that didn’t bother Ferst.

“It shows solidarity, even if you don’t shave your head,” Ferst said.

Pitt freshman Kelly Wadlinger was one of the 80 people who got a haircut. She only got a few inches trimmed off her mane, but she said she attended to show support for the cause, and donated some money.

Nicole Bucci, a Supercuts hair stylist who volunteered her time, said that getting long lengths of hair cut can be trying for some.

Christiana Thurton, a junior and publicist for Buzzing4Change, who had her bangs trimmed, said that she can empathize with those on the fence about donating.

She said that hair is a “security blanket” for women, and she said she’d be there to hold hands and give out tissues to those rife with emotion.

One woman ran into the bathroom, crying, after having 10 inches of hair cut, said a SuperCuts stylist.

Russell first thought when she felt the scissors snipping away her 12-inch ponytail was one of relief.

“I could feel there was less weight. It was great,” Russell said.

Brandon Hoover did not meet Locks for Love’s 10-inch requirement, but he was the first person to get his hair buzzed all the way to the skull. He was one of 34 people to get buzzed during the event.

Hoover’s friend Andrew Stesis informed him of the event. Both are members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

Stesis, a Pitt senior, sent out an email to his fraternity brothers encouraging them to go the event.

Because he knew Ferst and Russell, Stesis said that was why he wanted to support the event, adding that he thought Buzzing4Change was a good cause.

Not only has Hoover shown support for the foundation, he also gets to enjoy the cool benefits of a shorn head this summer.

“My hair hasn’t been this short since I was a baby,” Hoover said.