Troops on Victory Base Complex participated in Operation Shear Love, in which they donated their hair to Locks of Love, May 8.

Locks of Love is a not-for-profit organization that provides hair pieces to children with medical hair loss.

This is the first Locks of Love donation drive that has occurred in Iraq, said Tech. Sgt. Amber Hotzfeld, an intelligence analyst, Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Detachment - Iraq, and one of the organizers of the event who donated 11 inches of hair.

All of the troops, who each donated a minimum of 10 inches of hair for a total of almost eight feet, did so with their hearts going out to the children who need the hair more than they do.
According to Locks of Love, the program meets a need that goes beyond superficial beauty. They provide a service that can help children rebuild their self esteem and regain normalcy in their lives.

"My friend's daughter was diagnosed with a Stage-2 Wilms Tumor a year ago," said Hotzfeld. "She had her left kidney and a 10 cm tumor removed and went through 18 weeks of chemotherapy. She's doing great now and is cancer-free. I wanted to do this in her honor for being such a brave girl."

"I thought that this was a perfect way to support cancer research," said Spc. Teri Stadther, a badging specialist with Alpha Troop, 2-116 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, who donated 10 inches of hair. "I hope that my hair will help a child find a bit of joy and comfort in knowing that others are supporting and cheering for them. I plan on doing it again in the future."

"This the first time I've done anything like this," said Spc. Nicole Apontequiles, an administrative clerk, deputy commanding general of operations command action group, United States Forces - Iraq, who donated 15 inches of hair. "I was thinking about it for a long time, but didn't have the opportunity until now."

Hotzfeld said that due to logistics and the drawdown of forces, this is the only Operation Shear Love in which she will be able to organize and participate.

"Your hair means so much more to the kid who doesn't have hair than to you," she said.

"This is a beautiful cause," said Staff Sgt. Amaryllis Rivera, a unit supply sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 325th Military Intelligence, who donated 13 inches of hair. "I really wish more people were willing to participate."

"I would encourage everybody to find a foundation that they care for, something that pulls at their heart and jump in with both feet," said Stadther. "It will bring you such pride knowing that for somebody else, your little act of kindness will bring them great joy. Plus, it's just hair, and you can grow yours back."