Mikala Burk gives golden tresses

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

as part of ‘locks of love’ program


Features Editor

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April 2, 2001 10 PM

Mikala Burk sat as still as a mouse.

Her long, blond hair had been braided and bound tightly with a rubber band. The hair stylist stood behind her with scissors in her hand.

If Mikala wanted to back out, this was her last chance.

"I’m ready," the 5-year-old said. "I’m ready."

The hair stylist started to cut and the scissors gnawed through Mikala’s hair at a slow, pulling pace. Mikala’s eyes were closed, but she didn’t flinch.

When the tension eased on her head, Mikala opened her eyes, gave her head a vigorous shake and smiled at herself in the mirror.

The smile had a dual purpose. Most importantly, Mikala was proud of the deed she had done. Secondly, she liked the way her hair felt – light and perky.

Her mother, Merri, smiled, too.

Mikala had just given "Locks of Love" to someone she didn’t know and someone she would never know.

She and her mother had toyed with the idea for a long time but the final decision was Mikala’s.

"We knew of someone who had given hair to ‘Locks of Love’ and Mikala and I talked about her doing that one day," Merri Burk said.

"Locks of Love" is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children across the United States who are under age 18 and suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

"We decided that when Mikala got her hair cut that would be a good thing for her to do," Burk said. "Instead of her hair being swept up and thrown away, it could be used to make a hairpiece for some child who needs one. I was proud of her for wanting to donate her hair to ‘Locks of Love.’"

Wanting to and doing might be two different things, Mikala’s mom thought.

"A couple of weeks ago, Mikala decided she was ready to get her hair cut," Burk said. "She likes to play outside and swim and, in the summer, it’s hard to care for long hair. She said she was ready."

But, mom wanted to make sure, so she waited.

"I made her beg," Burk said, with a smile. "When she started begging, I knew she was ready."

Mikala and her mom went to European Dimensions Beauty Salon where Tony Brannon supports "Locks of Love" by giving free "cuts" to anyone donating their locks to the non-profit organization.

Mikala had no regrets about losing her hair to someone she doesn’t know.

"It feels good to do something for somebody else and it feels good to do this," she said, tossing her short hair from side to side.

Mikala and her mom want to encourage other girls to consider donating their hair to "Locks of Love" when they decide to get their long locks cut.

"The hair has to be bundled in a ponytail or braid and it has to be at least 10 inches long," Burk said. "There are several guidelines that have to be followed, but those are the main ones."

The majority of hair that is donated to "Locks of Love" comes from children who want to help other children and that is wonderful, Burk said.

"This is something children can do and, by doing this, they learn how good it feels to do something for somebody else."

For more information about "Locks of Love," call toll free 1-888-896-1588.