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Salons collect hair for effort to clean up Gulf Coast oil spill cleanup

Heather Gustafson, a hair stylist at Cost Cutters in Willmar cuts hair for a customer on Thursday morning. All hair being cut at the local hair salon is being saved to be donated to the efforts to clean up the gulf oil spill. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- Hair salons and pet groomers in the Willmar area are joining citizens on the Louisiana coastline and others around the country who are donating hair to help soak up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The cuttings from 18 salons and two pet grooming businesses in the Willmar area will be sent to Matter of Trust, a San Francisco environmental charity. The group will stuff the hair into nylon stockings and mats to form a "hair boom'' that will be placed in the spill areas to soak up the oil.

The charity used the same tactics when 58,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled from a container ship in the San Francisco Bay area in 2007.

Cost Cutters at the Kandi Mall in Willmar is coordinating the local effort. Hair is being brought to Cost Cutters or to the adjacent City Looks for collection and shipment to California.

"We're trying to get everybody in town to help,'' said Katie Fehl, one of about 10 stylists at Cost Cutters. "Bring in the hair and we'll take care of the rest. Or just give us a call because we can always pick it up from the salons, too.''

The collection effort began this week, said Fehl.

"It's awesome. It's wonderful. Everybody that gets their hair cut here will be donating to the Gulf coast,'' said Fehl. "We'll be doing it as long as we need to. We'll send it out about monthly. We'll keep doing it until they don't need it anymore for the spill.''

Hair is also being donated by New Image, Impressions, Ridgewater College, Fantastic Sams, Blondies, Dennis's Hair Styling, The Hair Keeper, Great Clips, Flair, Hair and More, Hair On First, Hair We Are, Reflections, Fair Winds, Foxes Corner, and JCPenneyand Fancy Coats and Dirty Dog.

-- David Little