Gaston & Catawba

It's never too early to learn the joy of giving to others

When Lucy Sigmon, age 5, sat down to have her hair cut one Saturday in May, she and her mother, Jenny Sigmon, were both “a little scared.”

Lucy was donating her 10-inch ponytail to Locks of Love, a public nonprofit organization that gives hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children who have lost their own hair for medical reasons. The children who receive the locks must be under 18 years of age and live in the U.S. or Canada.

I learned about Locks of Love when my daughter Becca was a teenager and decided to part with her own long ponytail. We never knew who received her hair, but we liked to think that it had gone for a good cause.

Jenny Sigmon had discovered Locks of Love through a friend and former co-worker with alopecia, an immune disorder that results in loss of hair. Through her, Jenny learned more about the distressingly large number of children affected.

Lucky girl finds purpose

The odyssey to the stylist's chair had started about a year earlier when Jenny was brushing Lucy's hair one night.

“I commented, like all mothers do, on how pretty her hair was and that she was a lucky little girl. I told her about Locks of Love and that there were a lot of little girls who did not have hair. I think she became very excited at the opportunity to help a little girl who ‘couldn't wear bows' or ‘go to crazy hair day at school.'”

After that conversation, Lucy was glad to tell anyone who complimented her on her beautiful long hair, “I'm growing it long to give to a girl who doesn't have any hair.”

On a visit to Wilmington to see her grandfather, David Prince, Lucy was very proud to tell him, “I'm growing out my hair to give to someone who doesn't have any hair – like you or Daddy!”

Jenny believes that part of what compelled her to broach the topic with Lucy was the loss of her own mother, Betty Prince, to leukemia almost seven years ago.

“During my mother's illness we spent a lot of time at Duke University Hospital and saw too many children who had lost their hair in efforts to beat this dreaded disease.

“I didn't want to depress Lucy but instead let her know that there was a world outside her limited view and that she could make a difference,” Jenny said. “Although her ponytail won't cure someone with cancer or alopecia, it sure can lift the spirits of a young child who has had to grow up too quickly.”

Lucy wanted to get her hair cut before kindergarten ended, so Mom and daughter went to Great Clips on Union Road in Gastonia and did the deed.

Lucy has learned at a young age the gift of giving, which is a way of life for her parents. Jenny says, “My husband Tony and I both work for the YMCA and have for many years. We have been greatly impacted by the work we do. We chose this line of work because it enables us to give back to the communities we serve.

“The parents that raised us, the mentors that took interest in us, and the mission of the YMCA shaped our beliefs and passions to serve others. I believe that we have approached our lives, work and community involvement with the words of Luke 12:48: ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom much has been entrusted, much more will be asked.'”

A cute bob and big smile

Now a first grader at Robinson Elementary School in Gastonia, Lucy sports a cute bob and a great big smile.

She may not totally comprehend the magnitude of the gift she has given, but her mom hopes it's just the beginning of commitment to the needs of others.

“We will never know what child received Lucy's ponytail,” Jenny says, “but my 5-year-old did something good, really, really good. My heart is so full of love for her doing this.

“And although she did something great for another child, she also really helped a mother whose heart breaks over her child's suffering from a disease that no child should ever have,” Jenny says. “I imagine the day when that mother puts a bow in her child's new wig of donated ponytails will be a really great day.”