WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Students at UNC School of the Arts are using one of their college classes to give back to those going through the hardest time in their lives.
Inside the school’s wig lab, instructor Christal Schanes and her student Logan Elizabeth Hardy are giving new hair and new life to patients with cancer and brain tumors who've lost their hair.
"We have the opportunity to give them their hair back as best as possible,” Hardy said. “That’s why we take the time to build them something that's comfortable and match who they are, and it's something that they can have to bring themselves back in this process."
It all began last year, when students in Schanes' wig building class kept asking her a question.
"Students were really asking me for a lot of counsel on how to build medical wigs for family members,” Schanes said.
That's when the medical wig class was born.
Students hand tie the wigs, which take anywhere from 70 to 125 hours to make.
"A custom fully hand-tied wig in the entertainment industry - on the low end - costs about $3,500,” Schanes said.
Students build them at the school for $600, thanks to donations.
Then, they give them to patients undergoing treatment at Novant's Forsyth Medical Center free of charge.
"It looks like my hair, feels like my hair, and I just feel normal,” said patient Gail O'Day. “People will say to me 'wow, your hair looks great. Nice hair cut!’"
So far, students have donated 12 wigs to those in need.
"Wanting to be able to help people who go through such a dramatic change in their life,” Schanes said. “Giving them a wig seems like something so small, but it really makes a difference."
"It's humanized the whole process,” O'Day said.
It’s hair made with a lot of heart.
"The students really created a bond with their client that is so powerful,” Schanes said. “The wigs that were built were made entirely with love."