Summerland girl proves you are never too young to care

11-year-old Jessica Pugh has been growing her hair out for a couple of years, waiting for it to get long enough, only to have it cut off.

Jessica Pugh

Jessica Pugh

Long hair is very much in style these days for young girls and 11-year-old Jessica Pugh has been growing her hair out for a couple of years, waiting for it to get long enough, only to have it cut off.

“I’m cutting all my hair off for cancer, because my dad had cancer and I wanted to give back,” Pugh said. “Kids that go through chemo don’t have any hair so I wanted to donate my hair to some kid who really needs it.”

Pugh is donating her hair to the Angel Hair for Kids Program, a subsidiary of A Child’s Voice Foundation. The organization provides wigs to financially disadvantaged children in Canada who have lost their hair due to a medical condition or treatment.

There are strict guidelines for acceptable donations.

Hair must be washed and thoroughly dried and then secured into ponytails, with a rubber band at each end. The hair must be then cut off above the rubber band and placed in an envelope along with a toonie and shipped to the foundation. Each ponytail must be a minimum of 30 centimetres or 12 inches long.

“It takes 20 pigtails to make one wig,” said Pugh.

In doing her research, Pugh watched a YouTube video in order to see exactly what will happen to her hair after it is received.

“It goes to this place and they sort it into bins according to colour,” she said. “They have this giant long comber and they pulled the hair through and put it into this big machine. Other workers clumped the hair into big stacks and then it went to another person who rooted the wigs.”

Pugh also makes hand-crafted cards, jewelry and soaps, which she sells in order to raise money for cancer. Half of the wages she earned for taking care of a neighbour’s cat went into her fundraising jar as well, which contained $200 at last count.

“Next weekend, I’m having a yard sale and I’m selling a bunch of my stuff and all the proceeds are going to go to my cancer fund,” explained Pugh.

Although she was only four years old when her dad was first diagnosed with cancer, she vaguely remembers the ambulance coming and having to go and stay overnight with another family. It wasn’t until she was older that she started to grasp the seriousness of cancer, when she and her parents took part in the Relay for Life and the Terry Fox Run.

Her mother Joanne Pugh explained that her daughter was nine years old when she realized how important the run was.

“She made a really profound comment to me,” Joanne Pugh said. “She said, ‘maybe because of all that money that was raised, that’s why daddy’s alive.’”

George Pugh has recently had a cancer prevention surgery, after there were signs that the cancer was coming back. He opted to have his colon completely removed in order to eliminate the problem and has had three surgeries in the last seven months.

The Pughs said that this is not something they could have gone through alone and they are very grateful for all the support they have received from neighbours and friends.

“The community has been fabulous,” said George Pugh.

Giving back is something that George Pugh himself has taught his daughter to do. He donates pill boxes to the cancer clinic. He explained that patients on chemo take so many medications that it is recommended that they use a pill box to organize them all.

“I have a hobby,” he said. “I make pepper grinders and the money I make from selling them, I use to buy pill boxes.”

The Pughs are very proud of their daughter for her efforts.

“I think she’s a pretty amazing young lady, at this age to think not just about herself, but about how to make things easier for other kids,” said Joanne. “When I think about it, it just makes my heart smile.”

If you would like to support Jessica Pugh in her efforts, her garage sale will be held on June 18 at 12231 Saunders Cres. and her hair will be cut off June 25 at 1 p.m. at Hair It Is, 13229 Henry Ave.