By Robert Lucke
Twelve-year-old Patricia Toldness cut her hair.
Now why does that make her a neighbor, and especially a Good Friday neighbor, you might well ask? The answer is easy.
Toldness cut her hair so that some young cancer victim or child with a medical disorder that precludes him or her from ever growing hair, can, at no cost, have a human hair wig.
It all started when Patricia and her sisters heard of a program called Locks of Love. The St. Jude's sixth-grader continues with the story.
"My sister looked up Locks of Love on the Internet and was going to cut her hair, so I decided to do it, too. One day I had a friend cut it, we put it in a braid, and sent it to Locks of Love," Patricia said. "It is a wig foundation in Florida. You send 10 to 12 inches of your hair and they put each strand in a wig, piece by piece. Before you can send it in, you have to wash it and send it as a braid.
"They give it to kids who have cancer and have lost their hair," she added.
"And even more importantly, they give the wigs to kids, who for some medical problem or other, cannot grow hair at all," her mother, Kelly Toldness said. "You know it is one thing for a boy to have no hair, but for a girl, it is really not socially acceptable if they cannot grow hair. And these human hair wigs are really good, because they can be used in sports and swimming and do not fall off."
After Patricia and her family of mom, dad and four sisters heard about Locks of Love, they thought long and hard about Patricia giving up her hair and then had to wait for quite a while until her hair reached a length where she could afford to lose 10 to 12 inches in one fell swoop.
Will she do it again soon? Probably not.
"Short hair is harder to do (get looking nice) than long hair. Now I want to grow my hair long again," Patricia said.
Not to worry though, for another sister is growing her hair to be able to cut, as well, for this program.
"Hillary is my oldest sister," Patricia said. "She thinks she is going to grow her hair long now and going to cut it for Locks of Love."
It takes 12 people's hair to make one wig. And it takes three to four months to construct. Average price for each wig, if kids had to pay for them, would be around $3,000.
Other than doing an extraordinary act of kindness, Patricia Toldness is a pretty normal sixth-grader.
Her favorite food is mom's tator tot casserole, her favorite class is math, and for recreation, she plays the piano. Her favorite winter sport is skiing, she loves to sew, and her favorite movie is "Music of the Heart." Well, maybe she is sort of extraordinary in other ways, as well.
The Toldness family hopes that more Havre kids will give to Locks of Love because it fills such a special need. Locks of Love has a toll free number of 888-896-1158 or you may contact Kelly Toldness at 265-4019.
Could there ever be a better end of Lent and a Good Friday neighbor than a little girl who gave her hair so that other kids can live at least more normal lives outwardly?
You make your town proud, Patricia.