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Windsor’s Mattie Washburn elementary students, teachers donate hair for children’s wigs

In a gym full of cheering classmates, students Camila Vazquez and Ellie and Hazel Bugarske had a good amount of their hair cut off Thursday at Windsor’s Mattie Washburn Elementary School to make wigs for children fighting cancer and other illnesses.

The three girls, along with teachers Marci Cook and Joanna Huie and staff member Charity Higareda, had at least a foot of hair shorn off each of their heads for Wigs for Kids, which donates the locks to children who have lost theirs to chemotherapy, radiation therapy and burns. The event was organized by Cook, who built it around her lesson on the letter “D.” She focused on the word “donate,” encouraging kids to give to others in need.

“The most powerful thing about this is for the kids to see that they can make a difference for someone. One child can make a difference for another child,” said Cook, who hoped to inspire kids at school to not only consider donating hair, but also unwanted toys and clothes.

It’s not the first time the 37-year educator, who will be retiring at the end of the school year, has clipped her hair in front of her students. She previously has donated her ponytails to organizations such as Locks of Love, a nonprofit group that provides hairpieces to disadvantaged children suffering hair loss from an illness.

She decided this time to invite other classrooms at the school to watch. Stylists from Great Clips and Hairy Tales in Windsor donated their time for the event.

Kids roared with excitement as the donors raised their clipped ponytails. Parent Lila Bugarske said the event inspired other children and adults. Many people inquired about donating hair, she said.

“She teaches these kids not just colors and numbers, but also how to be good citizens of the world,” Bugarske said of Cook, who taught her daughters Ellie and Hazel, 6 and 8 respectively, when they were in kindergarten.

When Cook first came to her with the idea of cutting her hair in front of the students, Bugarske said Ellie, now in first grade, immediately jumped on board. Hazel, who’s in third grade at Windsor Creek Elementary, was a little more hesitant.

When she and her mother stopped by to cheer on Ellie, the girl found the courage to jump on stage and have one of the stylists cut her hair, leaving it chin length.

“That’s their baby hair,” Bugarske said. “It was so emotional for me, but I didn’t cry … It’s such a generous, wonderful gift for people who really need it.”

You can reach Staff Writer Eloísa Ruano González at 521-5458 or eloisa.gonzalez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter ?@eloisanews.

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