This post was written by Katie Chapman.
Hello RISE community, it’s me again, Katie Chapman. Many of you might not know me yet but I am so glad to be a part of what this community is all about and share a little bit about how I’ve been living it out in my own way.
God has blessed each of us with something special, to be more accurate — many many something specials. One of mine has always been my hair. While I’ve had my battles with trying to get the comb through it in middle school or keeping it stick straight as was the trend in high school, it has always been something that I’ve been proud of. When I was younger my mom would always tell me that she loved my hair and that people (her, sometimes one of them) would always try to dye it my color, but nothing could come close to the real thing. From that day on I always wanted to donate it. The problem was just that I didn’t take care of it long enough to get it very long.
Eventually college came around and I saw this fresh start as the perfect time to try to grow it out. Who wants to pay for a haircut in college, right? I hit a couple bumps trying to get started (lice are some nasty creatures and dorms don’t help) but I cut it super short freshmen year and started from there. Lots of change happened over those next few years, changing schools, changing majors, changing relationships, but that hair just kept growing. Finally it’s senior year, what a journey. This is the year I found RISE :) I don’t know how I finally came to the conclusion but at some point I knew this year would be time to donate my hair. At first I bought a Costco sized two-in-one shampoo and said when I finished that I’d do it, but God had something bigger planned.
Now, especially since coming to JMU, I’ve been interested in getting involved with Relay for Life, but I have this tendency of talking myself out of things that I think I would really enjoy. This year I decided this would be different. Then this idea hits me! I asked a few people in my Occupational Therapy class if they would be interested in donating money if I would get a pixie cut (super short hair). I figured donating my hair is such a great thing to do and will help a few people very deeply … but why not try to do more?!? I’ve never been one to just settle on doing one thing at a time! I chose the number $2500 and decided that if I could reach that number, something that seemed logically unattainable but not completely impossible, then I would get this pixie cut and donate it all to make wigs. So this idea begins to form that pulls together this idea and my goal to be involved with Relay for Life. I started legitimately researching places to give my hair that would simultaneously raise awareness for people working to make a difference that may not get as much recognition as Locks of Love or Pantene and found Wigs for Kids and also created my own team for Relay for Life which I had never done before and had no idea what I was really doing, but I knew they had a reliable widely trusted online donation method that would in some way promote itself.
The wheels were spinning and I put every spare minute I could find into promoting this fundraiser on any social media I could get my hands on as well as talking about it to EVERYONE I knew…or didn’t really know. So, I had chosen who I was donating to, what my goal was, and methods to get there. Every moment I could I spent thinking of who I hadn’t talked to yet or other ways to get the word out. Finally, to wrap it all up, I did a clothing drive because another thing I had way too much of at this point, besides my hair, was clothes. I decided to continue this theme of promoting those less heard of and chose to use this drive as a way for people to drop off clothes they didn’t want anymore, but also for people to buy clothes for themselves, like a thrift shop where all the money would benefit Relay or Wigs for Kids. The fun part though was that all of the clothes remaining at the end all went to our own local Refugee Resettlement center, something that I haven’t been involved with here but has a close place to my heart.
All of this longer-than-it-probably-had-to-be story leads to this. By God’s grace I was able to raise $2577 for both Relay for Life and Wigs for Kids combined, at the Relay event we made 50 handmade cards for the children, I donated 18 inches of my hair, AND we gave 5 giant trash bags full of clothes to Harrisonburg Refugee Resettlement. I don’t say any of this to toot my own horn or talk about all the great things I did, but I want each of you reading this to know that you CAN make a difference, a HUGE difference, by using what you already have. Use your talents that God gave you, use your connections to make something big, and create ideas bigger than what you think you can achieve because God is even bigger than that.