2 years to grow, 2 minutes to go: 3 West Seattle kids’ gift of hair

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Quite the crowd inside West Seattle Kids Salon in Morgan Junction this morning to watch three Sanislo Elementary School fourth-graders get their hair cut. Here’s the “before” shot:

What made their haircuts newsworthy – a KING5 photojournalist was there too – was the fact the hair’s going to Locks of Love, to make wigs for kids who need hair.

The extra twist, revealed in the “after” shot: All that shining long hair belonged to boys!

From left, that’s 9-year-old Baxter Knannlein, 9-year-old Levi Erdman, and 10-year-old Abraham Allen-White. And before we get to the haircutting, here’s the proud crowd who cheered them on (literally, as you’ll hear in the haircut clips):

The boys say they have been growing their hair since March 2008. (Abe and Baxter admit they might have had a bit of a trim along the way.) They’ve been friends since kindergarten. “Like the Three Musketeers,” noted Levi’s mom, Angie (they play soccer together, too). The lead musketeer on this project was Abe:

They know people who’ve been helped by Locks of Love, too. Baxter explained, “My great-auntie in Germany had chemotherapy.” Levi added, “My dad’s friend got alopecia.”

But finally the time for talking ended, and it was on with the haircuts; we heard one mom note she couldn’t remember the last time she saw her son’s neck. Since the whole hair-growing idea was Abe’s, he went first – that’s West Seattle Kids staffer Janet Powell with the scissors:

Then on the other side of the salon, West Seattle Kids owner Sophia Blackman carefully removed Levi’s ponytailed hair (the ponytail is important for packaging the donation):

Levi then moved on to talk with the KING photojournalist, offering a poignant explanation of how kids will be helped by this type of hair donation:

And then the action moved back to the salon chairs, where Baxter finally joined his friends in saying goodbye to the long hair (which he said he’d enjoyed having because it was “like a built-in scarf”):

Many photo-ops ensued, including Baxter with proud dad Matt Knannlein, who sent us first word of the haircutting plan last month:

So will the boys’ classmates and teachers be surprised when they go back to school Monday and show off their new hairstyles?

Probably, they acknowledge. But perhaps those classmates and teachers shouldn’t get used to it. At least two of the boys are thinking of growing their hair to donate again.

If you want to donate to Locks of Love – take note, adults can do it too, as long as you’ll have a ponytail or braid at least 10″ long when it’s cut. Lots of info here, including who LOL helps, and how to donate. Seldom does a haircut appointment turn into such a joyful occasion – we lost count of all the smiles we saw:

25 Replies to "2 years to grow, 2 minutes to go: 3 West Seattle kids' gift of hair"

  • leilani bennett January 2, 2010 (4:57 pm)

    Fantastic Post! Of course, the fact that one of these handsome young men (Abe Allen-White) is my grandson doesn’t affect my judgement in any way.

  • add January 2, 2010 (5:35 pm)

    Great story and a cool organization. My daughter’s been growing hers for the same purpose for a while now, even though she’s well past the 10″ mark – she says she wants to wait until after winter ‘cuz the long hair keeps her neck warm.

    Good job, boys!

  • JanS January 2, 2010 (5:54 pm)

    Interesting in that I just saw the King5 story on this, and they said it was two boys and a girl…that Baxter was a girl. If, in fact, he’s a boy, I bet he sure appreciated that – lol.

    I am envious of their hair, long OR short – lol…

    • WSB January 2, 2010 (7:37 pm)

      Jan – Yes, all three are boys. I flagged a friend of mine at KING to your note so they’ll know, if any version of the story runs again at 11. The KING photojournalist was there for about a third of the time I was, but in his defense, in TV a story goes through many hands to get to air (note/call usually received by assignment editor, who dispatches photographer, and if she/he is working solo [no reporter along] as was the case here, then yet another person looks at her/his video to write the story, often NOT the anchor who reads it)…TR

  • miws January 2, 2010 (7:17 pm)

    Great job guys!



  • jeunglady January 2, 2010 (8:03 pm)

    This is such a great story. Very inspiring.

  • cathyw January 2, 2010 (8:09 pm)

    Wonderful story!

  • Matt Knannlein January 2, 2010 (8:58 pm)

    Yes, as Baxter’s father, I can verify that he is, in fact a boy. I don’t know how they flubbed that one. I mean, do you think girl when you hear the name Baxter? (Thanks, Tracy, for doing a more thorough job than King 5 news!) Luckily I’m raising my son to have a sense of humor :-) I heard that when they repeated the story again later with a different video clip, they did get it right and said three boys. Maybe they’d gotten my email in the meantime. We’re using this as a teaching moment to show Bax how you can’t believe everything you see on TV :-)

    • WSB January 2, 2010 (9:13 pm)

      Apparently they did. They just acknowledged my note and confirmed they had flubbed at 5 “to the huge embarrassment of the newsroom” but fixed for 6:30 after hearing from you.
      Heaven knows nobody’s perfect – and we too appreciate when people bring our mistakes to our attention (see all our contact options here:
      Congrats again to the boys! – TR

  • Rebecca Hall January 2, 2010 (11:10 pm)

    For adults thinking of donating to Locks of Love, lots of places give free haircuts such as the high end 7 Salon downtown with their free espresso bar and dj in the middle of the salon.

    Great cause to donate to boys!

  • Catherine January 2, 2010 (11:27 pm)

    What amazing boys those three are! Way to go! And I, too, am envious of their hair.

  • lina January 3, 2010 (7:15 am)

    way to go boys! that is an awesome sign of maturity and compassion.

  • TK January 3, 2010 (11:42 am)

    oh those are boys!?! I was about to say “those girls look like boys now w/out their hair.” What a great idea!

  • Kathryn January 3, 2010 (12:55 pm)

    I am a family friend of the Allen-White’s and I know that Abe had been mistaken for a girl more than once! We are so proud of him and his friends!

  • jovelyn January 3, 2010 (3:28 pm)

    Kalei says FINALLY you get your hair cut.
    Kalei’s mom says good job guys!:)

  • Marge Geiger January 3, 2010 (7:18 pm)

    This Cleveland grandmother of Baxter is very proud of her grandson! I am also very heartened that three young boys showed such maturity and other-centeredness to embark on this project. May they continue to be role models for others. Congratulations Baxter, Abe, and Levi!

  • alki_2008 January 4, 2010 (12:11 pm)

    Alternative to Locks of Love is Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. Minimum length of donated hair is only 8-inches, and all wigs they provide are free to recipients (can be adult women, not just children).
    Not knocking either program, just providing an alternative that some people may not know about.

  • Maryann Horsley January 4, 2010 (12:41 pm)

    As one of their teachers at Sanislo, I know this has been a project in the works for awhile. I am so excited that they are thinking in a “community or global” way!! Alright Abe, Baxter, and Levi!!

  • David Knannlein January 4, 2010 (1:43 pm)

    Way to Go Baxter, the whole family is proud of your and your two friends. Everyone should find a cause to be as dedicated to!

    Great Uncle David

  • TK January 4, 2010 (2:56 pm)

    Now they’ll have to train their bangs back into going forward rather than splitting down the middle for that “emo” look.

  • WTF January 4, 2010 (10:10 pm)

    WOW! Beautiful kids not only on the outside but on the inside. Good going boys. You’re the greatest.

    TK, are you kidding me? Put a plug in the jug.

  • theo January 5, 2010 (7:03 pm)

    sweet! levi abe and bax i’m so happy that you cut it but you cant call your selves the hary jets anymore

  • Joe Geiger January 7, 2010 (2:16 pm)

    Yay, Abe, Bax and Levi. You guys rock! A New Year’s inspiration to all of us. Compassion for the suffering of others is a beautiful thing but it remains only a word without the kind of selfless outreach you have shown. There isn’t much that can’t be transformed in this world if all of us would match your hearts, step up to the plate and share our blessings. Rock on jets! We’re proud of you.—Jopa

  • Terrianne Roarke January 11, 2010 (3:40 pm)

    I am Abraham’s VERY PROUD nanny! Although figuring out what to do with all that hair before swimming lessons was a bit of a task.

  • Sharon Billings January 11, 2010 (5:34 pm)

    Abe, you certainly are living up to your Biblical namesake as a leader:
    first, your trio
    and now, all of us are being introduced to new ways of caring.
    Thank you for delighting all with your example.
    I agree with Joe: You guys rock!!!

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