St. John Neumann students turn haircut into act of mercy

Emily Booker News, Schools, Year of Mercy

By Emily Booker

Third-grader Kristianna Stinnett shows off hair she is donating to help women battling cancer.

Third-grader Kristianna Stinnett shows off her cut hair that she is donating to help women battling cancer.

Can something as simple as a haircut be an act of mercy? The students at St. John Neumann School in Farragut think so.

Fourteen girls and women had their ponytails cut in order to donate them to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign, which uses the hair to make free wigs for women who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.

Students at St. John Neumann School were participating in a Family Retreat Day, in which groups of differing grade levels spent the day together as a family, learning how to work together and reflecting on the story of the Good Samaritan and the Year of Mercy.

Kindergarten teacher and event organizer Michelle Dougherty believes the ponytail-cutting fits into that message of helping others.

“By this little act, this is their way of showing that they can make a difference and be a change in the world, so it kind of brings our whole day together,” she said. “It’s a great way for all the school to see their faith and their works in action.”

The entire school assembled to watch as the girls and women explained why they decided to donate their hair.

“I decided to cut my hair because I wanted to help the women who were going through cancer,” third-grader Kristianna Stinnett said.

With a cheer from the onlookers, family and friends cut off several inches hair from each donor. Stylists from Belleza Salon in Knoxville were on hand to prepare the hair for cutting and to style the donors’ hair after the cuts. The donated hair tallied some 113 inches, enough to make more than four wigs.

In the past five years, 110 girls have participated in the ponytail-cutting event at St. John Neumann School, donating approximately 900 inches, or 75 feet, of hair.

“What can we do to change the world?” Ms. Dougherty asked the students. “Donating a ponytail doesn’t seem like a big deal, but Blessed Mother Teresa said, ‘We can’t all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.’ And that’s what these ladies are doing, a small thing with great love.”

The hair donated will be made into wigs by HairUWear and distributed to female cancer patients through American Cancer Society wig banks.