Orchard Valley Middle School sixth grader Lizzie Tsoukalis has made generous donations to help children with leukemia — with her hair.
Tsoukalis donated to Washington Township’s Makes the Cut charity and the national charities Children With Hair Loss and Pantene Beautiful Lengths to help children with leukemia regain a sense of normality and confidence, and because she believes those gifts can have a lasting impact.
At first hesitant, Tsoukalis began donating her locks when she was 5, 7 and 9 years old, and once again at 11. Two years ago, Lizzie, her 3-year-old sister Kathleen and her 9-year-old cousin Katie donated their hair together, for a total of 5 feet.
Following is her interview with the Sun:
What inspired you to want to donate your hair?
My mom brought me to a donation event at Makes the Cut when I was 5 years old, and that was when I first donated my hair. Then in first grade, my friend, Johanna Tyson, had leukemia, and she told me how she lost her hair. It made me realize that some people aren’t as fortunate as me to have a lot of hair, and I wanted to do something to help them.
Why is helping others important to you?
I have always hated it when people are sad and down on themselves, so I help cheer them up and make them happy. I have donated my hair to help other people feel better about themselves and be happier. When I was 5, I met a girl named Michaela, who was a student at the high school. Because she had surgery, they had to shave her hair. She had gotten a wig. She pointed out that our hair was similar in color. Realizing that my hair could have been used for someone like her, it made me feel proud about donating my hair.
What important lessons can people learn from helping those in need?
You can learn that some people don’t have everything that you might have and it makes you realize that you should be grateful for what you have.
Apart from donating hair, what other ways do you help the community, family, and friends?
I was in the Green Club in elementary school, and we would try to help animals in the wild that are close to being extinct. I did the clean community day and picked up trash that was in the woods at the Washington Township football field. I also help my mom with wrapping and separating gifts for the giving tree at the Washington Township High School.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I have played soccer and softball for six years. I play the piano, and this is my seventh year playing. I play chess, and I have been to many tournaments. I like to draw or sketch random things when I’m bored.