A reason to give thanks

Children benefit from woman's generous gift

— Sitting in a barber shop in Midtown Manhattan, Mary Crotz watched as two women, handed locks of long flowing hair that were once attached to their heads, burst into tears.

As she went under the scissors at the fashionable Louis Licari Salon, Crotz, however, was unphased.

"It's just hair. It's not that big a deal," she said. "But it is a big deal to the kids."

The children Crotz is referring to are cancer patients or other young people who have ailments that cause them to lose their hair.

Crotz, along with four other women, donated her hair to a charity organization known as Wigs for Kids in front of the lights and cameras of the television program "Inside Edition" and McCall's magazine.

McCall's paid for the $500 haircut, as well as flying Crotz and the other women to New York for the cut and a photo shoot that will be published in the January issue of the magazine. That issue comes out the first week of December.

Before about 20 inches of hair were cut, Crotz could sit on her hair. She had grown it out for about 10 years without cutting it and had decided t she would give her hair to cancer patients about three years ago after watching a television program about children with cancer who had been presented with wigs.

Crotz, who has had to deal with a number of cases of cancer in her family, knew immediately that this was a way she could help people with cancer. After growing her hair to what she thought was a suitable length (it was actually much longer than the 10-inch minimum), she wrote to McCall's, a magazine she subscribes to, to tell them about it.

Within three days, magazine representatives wrote back telling her that they wanted to hear her story and, later, offered to fly her to New York for the haircut.

"Everything snowballed from there," Crotz said.

Women from Alabama, Washington, D.C., New York and Ohio joined her in New York, where they were taken out to dinner, driven around the city and given free haircuts and stylings. After the haircuts, the participants were treated to champagne and pastries at the salon.

For Crotz, however, the best part of the experience was when she got to meet two girls who had received wigs from the foundation.

"To see those girls come in with the wigs was really special," she said. "They had really done a great job with those wigs; they looked really natural."

Crotz gave the girls Steamboat teddy bears to commemorate the occasion.

Although Crotz wants to meet the young woman who receives her hair, the agency has a policy not to give out the names of the wig recipients.

Normally, for a child to get a wig, it costs about $1,500, Crotz said, but the nonprofit Wigs for Kids gives the wigs to children for free.

Every once in a while, Crotz said she reaches her hand to the back of her neck as if to pull her long hair out of her coat, only to find it isn't there. At the same moment, perhaps, some young girl is pulling it out of her own coat.

To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203

or e-mail asalzman@amigo.net

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