FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- For the past three years, 13-year-old Amanda Schwarz had become a real life version of the fairy tale character, Rapunzel.

She grew her tawny tresses to her waist and went to great measures to ensure they stayed healthy and shiny.

But her grooming was not done for the sake of vanity, the teenager said, but rather, in support of a good cause.

On Jan. 30, Schwarz visited a salon in her hometown of Elgin and had 12 inches of her hair cut off to donate to Locks of Love.

She sealed the hair in a plastic bag, stuffed it into a padded envelope and mailed it to the Florida-based non-profit organization where the workers will use it to make hair pieces for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

"Some people may think, 'Big deal, what's so great about getting a hair cut''" said Schwarz, who found out about Locks of Love about seven years ago when her friend was diagnosed with leukemia.

"His name was Lawson and he was only three years old at the time," she said of her friend. "When I found out he was going to lose his hair, I felt really bad for him. I kept thinking, 'What can I do to make him feel better'' Then I heard about Locks of Love."
Schwarz, who was 5 years old and had never had a hair cut in her life, begged her mother to let her get her hair cut so she could donate it to the charity.

"My mom finally gave in, with a few tears, and let me get my hair cut," she said.

Since then, Schwarz has grown out her mane and cut it off three times to donate to Locks of Love. After each cut, Schwarz said it takes her about two years to grow back beyond the required 10 inches to donate, and with about 6 inches left to style. She said she plans to do it again.

Amanda's father, Allen Schwarz, a carpenter for Fort Jackson's Directorate of Public Works, said he is extremely proud of his daughter for showing such empathy toward others already at very a young age.

"As a father, you're main goal in life is not only to provide a safe, loving environment for your children, but also to instill in your child the importance of providing back to others who are not as lucky as you are," he said. "I can't even express the joy I feel in my heart every time I see Amanda excel in this area."

For more information or to donate to Locks of Love, see www.locksoflove.org.

Page last updated Thu February 25th, 2010 at 07:47