Local woman helps provide cancer patients with wigs

Clara Smith holds up one of the donation kits used to collect braids of hair that will be transformed into wigs for cancer patients. Cori Lukomski | Times Herald

LOOGOOTEE — Martin County has been unable to organize an independent Relay For Life event for the past two years, but Clara Smith, owner of the Hair Corner in Loogootee, has not been deterred in her efforts to be a champion for cancer victims, survivors and their families.

As a beautician, Smith is especially aware of the significant role that the condition of one’s hair plays in self confidence. A flier from her shop reads, “For patients who lose their hair during cancer treatments, wigs and head coverings can play an important role in maintaining self-confidence,” however, wigs are, sometimes, expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

In her shop on JFK Avenue in Loogootee, Smith houses an American Cancer Society Wig Salon. It’s a free service to patients undergoing cancer treatment resulting in hair loss. A person hoping to benefit from the program can contact any participating salon from across the state.

Smith added the clarification that the popular program, Locks of Love, although a good program to support as well, does not use its donated hair for wigs for cancer patients, but instead, provides wigs for individuals living with alopecia, one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders that causes hair loss.

The braids that Smith collects goes 100% to high quality wigs for cancer patients. She cuts and contributes 30 to 50 braids annually to the American Cancer Society Wig Salon. The free program includes one new wig a year to cancer patients experiencing hair loss at no cost, including professional fitting of the wig, recommendations for cleaning, storing and any necessary styling. Smith even includes trimming the wigs, as needed. Many colors and styles are available to meet a variety of needs. There are no income or residency requirements to participate in the program.

To donate a braid to the program, it needs to be at least six inches in length. Additional wigs and head coverings are available for purchase from a catalog available at the wig salon.

To find a salon in your community and make an appointment, call 1-800-227-2345. Scheduling with Smith can be accomplished by calling her shop at 812-295-2887 or 812-631-1860.

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