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story.lead_photo.caption Liberty-Eylau senior DaMya Smith constructs a wig that she made for the cosmetology program to donate to charity. The students will be working on the wigs for the next two weeks in order to donate them by Christmas. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — The Liberty-Eylau High School Cosmetology Department is feeling the Christmas spirit this year, as they work on manufacturing wigs to donate to people in need.

First-year Cosmetology instructor Tishomengia Lott said she wanted to start an annual tradition at L-E High and could think of no better way than for her and her students to help out their community.

They're using materials they have on hand and some donated from Buy And Save Hair & Beauty Supply in Texarkana to make wigs that will be donated to two nonprofits: Elijah's House, a local nonprofit that accepts hygiene products as donations; and Cheryl Roy's Cancer Survivors, an organization in Tyler, Texas, that provides wigs to cancer survivors to help them re-establish self-esteem after treatment.

Lott wanted to donate to a local nonprofit that helps cancer patients, but there was an issue of accessibility due to COVID restrictions. So, she had to adjust.

"When it comes to hair, cancer (patients) are the first thing you think of as far as who could use it," she said. "With COVID, the red tape was so big to try to get into the hospitals and that end of cancer, so we said let's find a nonprofit who deals with cancer patients to donate to."

That's when she discovered Cheryl Roy, a breast cancer survivor who also teaches cosmetology and who has made an annual event out of getting wigs to give to cancer survivors.

Even with the work-around, it took a concerted effort by her students to make it happen.

"It's hard to get the kids to buy in, so when they want to buy in to something, we want to jump on top of that train as soon as it's smoking," she said. "And they were so excited about this.

"I think it's awesome that the kids were ready to jump on-board, and I didn't really have to pull their coat tails to do it. I think Christmas has a lot to do with it. When you feel like you're doing something great for people, everybody wants to be a part of it."

Lott said her students will learn skills from this activity that could advance their careers.

"So many people think that cosmetology is just doing hair, but there's so many different areas," she said. "Normally, in a basic setting, you learn what it takes to pass the test and get to the state board. But when you get out, you have to compete and know more than standing behind that chair that separates you. It's an advantage that they allow me to incorporate these types of things into the curriculum to get these kids where they're a lot more advanced when they graduate than some people who already have licenses."

The students will be working on the wigs for the next two weeks and hope to have them done before Christmas.

Lott said this is hopefully just the beginning.

"Next year, we can give to two different charities," she said. "We might get together and say we want to have a sweater drive or something. I think it's just pretty exciting."

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