Wellington C. Mepham High School’s “Chop Your Locks For Charity” event was a green carpet affair. When attendees stepped onto the rug and into the gymnasium on March 20, they were met with more green: green paper shamrocks with the names of seniors’ and their family members scrawled across them, green on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation shirts and green on the smocks used to catch hair being shaved and cut from donors’ heads.
But Christopher Patten, a social studies teacher who helped organize the event, said the community could not have raised some serious green – more than $56,000 – if it weren’t for the efforts of the senior class to bring back the fundraiser in full force.
“Some of projects have had great impact on Mepham community,” he said of “Chop Your Locks For Charity.” “We kind of want to revisit them every few years. The kids really got behind it and spread the word.”
Mepham faculty, students and community members were able to shave their heads for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation or donate eight or more inches of their hair for the Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths Campaign to show their solidarity for children who have been diagnosed with cancer once again this year.
Patten and fellow social studies teacher Kerry Dennis coordinate the senior service learning projects at the school. After discussing healthcare issues in class and doing charity work to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in the fall, members of the class of 2013 learned about childhood cancer research in the spring. Patten said this resulted in the revival of the St. Baldrick’s and Beautiful Lengths Campaign fundraiser.
Three faculty members - Maura Kempton, Marie Netto and Marybeth Vetro, - brought this “Chop Your Locks For Charity” benefit to Mepham in 2008. But this year, the fundraiser became “senior-driven,” according to Patten, and the class of 2013 was able to exceed their $50,000 goal.
“For a long time it seemed like that number was far, far away,” Patten said. “Everything that the seniors set out to do for this event, they accomplished.”
Organizers said more than 125 heads were shaved at “Chop Your Locks For Charity” this year, and 40 ponytails were cut and will be used to make wigs through Pantene’s campaign.
The school also raised about $56,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The top fundraiser was Thomas Mauro, who brought in nearly $3,000. Because of this, he will get to “be Mr. Harrington,” the principal, for a day.
Patten said that Mauro was the only person to raise more than $2,000 individually. He said that was important to note because it showed that many members of the Mepham community got involved with this project to reach the fundraising goal.
“If you go down that page, there is a dollar amount next to a lot of people,” Patten said of Mepham’s fundraising website. “The students at Mepham reached that number by everyone kind of contributing.”