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Posts Tagged ‘Project Knitwell’

Things Getting “Hairy”

Last week, my daughter and I donated our hair.

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Nope, didn’t measure.  We clearly had more than the 8-10 inches required, so that’s good.  Didn’t ask for receipts or acknowledgements either.

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This was her first time.  I’ve done it before.  We sent our donations to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, though I have donated to Locks of Love in the past. I do this every few years, and I do the research every few years.

About non profits and pseudo controversy

Every time, I hear the same ‘buzz’ about Locks of Love.  The “warehouses of hair” nonsense.  Allegations that they make some outrageous profit.  Complaints that the hair doesn’t go to kids with cancer.  Complaints that they charge thousands of dollars to make wigs for adults.  The implication that there is something untoward and misleading about the organization.

Um… no.  Locks of Love explains exactly what they do on their website.  If it’s not what “everybody knows” they say they do…  um…  then everybody is wrong.  The organization actually has very good Charity Navigator and Guidestar ratings. They spend very little on fundraising and awareness campaigns, so if the ‘buzz’ out there it wrong, the odds are good that buzz is from well meaning contributors, not deceitful practices.  Years ago, when I did my research, I tracked the ‘warehouse full of hair’ stories down to one newspaper account of a boutique with a box in the back of pony tails they hadn’t bothered to send in for some ridiculous numbers of years.

This time, I actually did find some documentation of possible concerns.  Nonprofit Investigator actually does have concerns about the amount of hair donations vs. the number of wigs produced.  It took some digging to find what Locks of Love says in response, which comes down to ‘we only got 317 requests that year, and we make scalp prosthesis, not wigs…’.    She also said that the nonprofit at this point in time would rather have cash donations than hair.  So, yeah, not where I’m donating this time around, because I’m looking for a place to donate hair, not cash.  She then went on to make snide comments about NPI’s “agenda”, which loses some sympathy from me. I believe LoL is doing a good job, for the right reasons.  I believe the same of NPI.  Take criticism, it’s important.  I would also be a little bit more comfortable if they did track donations.  Even though they are not that large a cash value compared to what the organization does, they are significant to those of us who donate hair.

I will be donating blood to the Red Cross next week.  I used to donate platelets, but apparently, due to new technology and childbearing, that’s no longer appropriate for me.

The thing is, I’ve seen similar criticism about the Red Cross.  I mean, they gasp take money for the blood I gave for free.  How DARE they!  The greed!

I’m against greed, and people profiting from my honest generosity, but let’s be real here.

Here’s what happens when I give blood:

  • I go to a permanent location (I assume they pay for rent and electricity)
  • I check in, either with a volunteer (no cost) or on a laptop (one time investment plus wi-fi)
  • I read the required literature on safety and what to expect (copying cost, probably but not necessarily written by professional)
  • I wait in the waiting room (there are magazines available, though I usually have a book or my knitting.  Magazine subscriptions cost money).
  • I am screened (computer equipment, trained professional, medical equipment and supplies)
  • I am seated (specialized medical chair, sterile needle and collection bag, extensive labeling)
  • A medical professional takes my blood (I really hope they pay competitive wages, because it sucks to donate blood and have a massive bruise for a week)
  • I am given cookies and juice (as far as I know they are bought, not donated)

Then the blood is tested (extensively), filtered, refrigerated and transported.

Yes, I donate the blood.  That doesn’t mean it should be free.  They used to buy blood rather than asking for donations, but the people who sold their blood were often motivated by desperation, not altruism, and had a higher than normal for the population at large to be ill or addicted (two things which might lead someone to sell their body parts…)

Non-profit doesn’t mean free.  It means that the organization makes enough money to cover it’s day to day costs.

Sorry for the rant, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Next Likely Time Donation

For a while I volunteered at the local Job Corps center, tutoring young adults in basic literacy and math.  It was an interesting and rewarding experience (though sometimes frustrating).  That particular program closed down, and I’ve been looking for other local opportunities which fit in with my availability and abilities.  I’ve stumbled upon Project Knitwell, which involves volunteers teaching patients, their families and their medical providers how to knit.  I sent an email last Friday inquiring about volunteer opportunities, and today I learned that the next training session is tomorrow.  If I’d had a week lead time I could have gone down and done it, as it is, I’m on their contact list for the next session.    It sounds interesting and promising, and maybe I’ll end up volunteering there.

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