March 25, 2011

For mom and daughter, a special gift is returned

Londonderry High School student Caroline Chase unwraps a wig made especially for her
mother, Debbie Tarr, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- The generosity of countless Londonderry High School students who donated their hair to help cancer patients over the years came full circle Thursday morning when the mom of a past donor benefitted from a free Pantene Beautiful Lengths wig.
Caroline Case, a junior whose mother, Debbie Tarr, was diagnosed with cancer in November, was all smiles after being
 called into the principal’s office on Thursday. 

Tarr recently underwent surgery to treat her cancer and continues to receive chemotherapy as she battles the disease. She cut her daughter’s hair during this year’s Beautiful Lengths event. 
Just over a week ago, Case approached English teacher Steve Juster, who organizes the school’s annual hair drive. It was short notice, but Juster and his program assistants, seniors Kendra Snyder, Shayla McElroy and Caroline Gaudet, and junior Jenny Thompson, were up to the task. 
Like all of the Beautiful Lengths wigs, Tarr’s new hairpiece is made of donated human hair and is hand-sewn. According to program officials, each wig is valued at several thousand dollars. 
Though it’s impossible to say for sure, Tarr’s new wig might have even been made using hair donated by some of Londonderry High School’s own “angels.” The wigs are delivered in one length, allowing their new owners to add their own personal touches. 
“Caroline, this box came to the school today. This is the other end of the rainbow,” Juster told Case, as he handed her a white, FedEx package yesterday morning. 
Case beamed, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye. 
“It’s the semi-Jessica Simpson color you requested,” Juster offered. 
Lifting the glossy, blond bob out of its packaging, Case ran her fingers through the silky hair. “It’s so soft,” she exclaimed. “Wow, Mom’s going to love this!” 
Case later took the box with her to her art class, where it was decorated and wrapped, to make that evening’s presentation all the more special. 
“It got here so fast — it hasn’t even been a week,” Case added, noting that her mom knew she might possibly have a wig on the way but would be quite surprised to learn it arrived so promptly. 
“We thought it would take a couple months,” she said. 
Juster said the process does, indeed, typically take several months, since in most cases patients or family members must contact the local branch of the American Cancer Society with such requests because each individual case needs to be verified. 
Fortunately, local ACS representatives had already met the local mother and daughter, who both participated in this past January’s Beautiful Lengths Celebration of Giving event. 
“It worked out really quickly. You did a lot for us and inspired many people.” Juster told Case. “This here is the best of both worlds.” 
His student helpers and fellow staff members mirrored his enthusiasm. 
“I’m, like, psyched right now,” Gaudet grinned. “Can I hide behind the couch when you give it to her?” 
“Now we understand why Mr., Juster calls these people ‘angels,’” Assistant Principal Art Psaledas said. “They are gifts from above.” 

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