Pantene Beautiful Lengths ponytail drive goes on without hairstylists

High school cosmetology student Styler Jenkins cuts off Leah Filardi's ponytail for Pantene Beautiful Lengths. - Staff photo/Taylor Henry

The Pantene Beautiful Lengths ponytail drive held on Wednesday did not quite go as planned.

Originally scheduled to take place at 5 p.m., the event was put on hold for over an hour when the three local hairstylists who said they would volunteer their time to the cause did not show up.

After the group waiting realized the hairstylists were not coming, they searched for an alternative. Morgan Jenkins, a junior journalism major who showed up to cover the event for her online journalism class, called her 16-year-old sister, Skyler, who majors in cosmetology at Gloucester County Institute of Technology. Skyler agreed to volunteer. On her way to Rowan, she stopped at Rite-Aid to buy a pair of scissors and a comb set.

The first donor, sophomore chemical engineering major Leah Filardi, was visibly nervous as the high-schooler began cutting off her ponytail.

“I’m really just curious to find out what it looks like,” Filardi said as her hair was being shaped up by Skyler Jenkins. When Filardi looked in the mirror, however, she liked her new look. “It’s just going to take some getting used to,” she said.

Filardi’s ponytail was over a foot long. “More than I planned on,” she said. She had never had her hair cut that short before.

Beautiful Lengths is an organization that collects hair donations to create wigs for chemotherapy patients. The drive was hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a group that seeks to promote and support women in engineering, especially in advocacy, professional development and outreach.

SWE decided to host the drive because SWE President Rachel Adams donated her hair to Beautiful Lengths last summer, and both SWE and Beautiful Lengths are female-oriented organizations.

“Over the summer, when SWE was planning [events] for the year, I thought it would be a great service project for us to do,” said Adams, a junior chemical engineering major. “We figured now would be a good time to do it since a lot of girls cut their hair for the summer.”

Five ponytails were collected Wednesday night. Some were cut off at the event and others were dropped off by people who had already cut their hair.

“I always try to donate my hair after it gets to a certain length,” said junior chemical engineering major Mariah Soyring, who has donated about three times before. “I was excited that SWE was coordinating the event and it seemed like a great opportunity to support them, and also Beautiful Lengths.”

Others had never donated their hair, but wanted to contribute to providing wigs to chemotherapy patients.

“I’ve always had a generous heart,” Filardi said. “I figured that if I could provide someone with something that I take for granted everyday with just a simple haircut, then I should.”

Skyler Jenkins was nervous about cutting the donors’ hair, but was grateful to do so. “I’m glad I got the experience, and also because it’s for a good cause,” she said.

People who want to donate to Beautiful Lengths can do so any time of year by mailing their donation.The donations must be eight inches in length, and must be untreated and unbleached. For more information about donating, visit

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