“Stuart girls are encouraged to think of and reach out and help others from the moment they enroll. This is what motivated me, my sister, and many of you to donate your hair, your time, and your energy to supporting this cause.” - Alexa Rangecroft
On Monday, February 10, Stuart celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Locks of Love hair cutting event with 16 members of the Stuart community donating their hair to children in need. The stylists at Metropolis Spa & Salon in Princeton also donated their time and talent for this worthy cause. This tradition was inspired by Alexa Rangecroft, who was in kindergarten at Stuart at the time. Alexa and her mother, former Stuart staff member Shannon Rangecroft, wanted to honor its longevity and special meaning to the community by organizing the 2020 event. Four members of the Rangecroft family, including Alexa, also donated hair for the cause. In her remarks to the community, Alexa shared the history of the event and how it truly encompasses the Goals of the Sacred Heart. Continue reading below. Click here for photos.
Locks of Love is often mentioned in the context of Goal 3: A Social Awareness Which Impels to Action. But how did this all come about? What made a 4-year-old Stuart student decide to cut off their ponytail to help people she’d never met and may never know?
Step 1: Social Awareness
Thinking of others quickly becomes part of life here at Stuart. First, I remember sitting in lower school morning prayer, at the end of which, we would set intentions. Students would stand and tell us about a hardship faced by their loved ones, and all the students and teachers would think about them, and empathize with their suffering, before moving on with the day.
So considering others starts off that way right? As part of the routine? Wake up – brush teeth- think about others – go to math class? I’m sure the older students can attest that when you were little and it came time to brush your teeth you’d be really focused, staring in the mirror, trying to make sure all that tooth paste foam doesn’t get on your pjs? And yet now, you barely think about brushing your teeth while you do it and you still do a very thorough job, right?
The same goes for thinking of others, because we have it instilled in us every day, it quickly becomes woven into the fabric of who we are. And you go about life like a little Roomba of goodwill. If left on autopilot, we will continue bouncing off the walls, identifying people in need, and keeping them in our thoughts.
That’s what kicked this whole thing off. I was a kid. I saw other kids who were in need and I wanted to help them. That sequence of thoughts seems straight forward.
Part 2: Action.
I remember being in 3-year-old -preschool, coloring placemats for Meals-on-Wheels, and learning that while I could not read, or write, or cross the street by myself, I had the power to brighten someone’s day. You could be making sandwiches for Loaves and Fishes, selling cookies at bake sales, volunteering with local organizations, or even going off to build houses in Appalachia, as many of you have and will. We have endless opportunities to take action to help our community locally and worldwide and we are empowered from the age of 3 with the knowledge that even if all you have to offer is your art as a placemat, you have the ability to better someone’s life.
So in this storyline, I saw children in need. There were a few options of ways to help them. And at age 4, all I really had to offer was my hair. And so I decided: I’d be giving my hair to better their lives.
What’s truly remarkable here is that at Stuart, the voice of a 4-year-old was heard, taken seriously, and supported by an entire community.
I easily could have been told that this was a very nice thought, but haircuts should be done outside of school and that’s that. That’s not an unreasonable response and I’m sure there are places where a child’s enthusiasm and optimism are commonly dismissed by whatever is considered standard policy.
As we all know, that was not the case at Stuart. I was encouraged to donate my hair that very first year and did so in front of the entire lower school. You may not believe it right now, but at that time I was shy and quiet, I’m naturally introverted, and being the center of all that attention was pretty nerve wracking.
Thankfully and wonderfully, in the spirit of goal 4, this community, our community, would not let my single-donor status last for long. When Locks of Love came around the next year, we had 40 participants! Those participants inspired even more people. Now, around 20 people in our Stuart community donate their hair to Locks of Love every year.
This year we will reach over 400 ponytails in total donations, which is absolutely incredible.