Martinez girl donates hair for wigs

Emilie Bobinger is no ordinary kid, unless it's typical for 9-year-old girls to want to cut off their long, flowing hair.

"I pretty much followed my heart," said Emilie, who recently informed her grandmother that she wanted to donate her thick, dark brown tresses to Locks of Love.

Grandmother Annette Berger isn't sure where Emilie got the idea but said she might have been influenced by a cousin who was diagnosed with alopecia areata at age 9.

"Maybe she overheard," Berger said of the cousin's disease, which caused all her hair to fall out.

Locks of Love is a nonprofit organization that provides wigs for American and Canadian children suffering from long-term hair loss caused by any diagnosis.

"I just want to make sure the kids that have cancer or -- I can't pronounce it -- that they got wigs," said Emilie, a rising fourth-grader at River Ridge Elementary.

Only one thing stood in the way of the haircut: an upcoming role in the Columbia County Ballet's performance of Roar of Love .

Longer hair is easier to put in a bun for practice, and it's better suited for the "bouncy, curly ponytails" required of the ballet's Fairy Sprite role, Berger said.

With ringlets accomplished, however, it was time for Emilie to go to the salon.

Erin Toomey, a stylist at Tuscany -- A Classic Italian Spa in Evans, uses a special technique for Locks of Love donors that allows them to give more hair.

"I have to have at least 10 inches," she said. "If I do small ponytails all over, I can get more hair that way."

Toomey got started with Locks of Love in 2008, cutting hair for an Augusta State University Valentine's Day Cut-a-Thon.

Emilie was "the first one that I've done that was as young as she was," Toomey said. "I thought it was very sweet of her to do that."

Her hair in a bob with a new side part, Emilie said she felt "light-headed" walking around without 10 inches she'd had since age 4.

Somewhere, a child will be wearing her hair.

"If we were standing next to each other, we would have the same hair color and texture," Emilie said.