Difference Makers: NYC teen on mission to encourage others to donate hair for cancer patients


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A Manhattan teen is growing a nice charity by growing his hair.

Caleb Rosenfeld of the Upper West Side has always preferred his hair long.

“It’s kind of become my thing. I like it," he tells WCBS 880's Mike Sugerman.

Even though it’s not always been easy.

“Especially when I was younger, people with good intentions, like people in the elevator saying ‘Hello, pretty girl,’ or something like that," he said.

But his long hair is not just about style.

Rosenfeld has been growing his hair out long and then cutting it once a year since the third grade, when his school did a hair donation drive for cancer patients, mostly children, who lost their hair to chemotherapy.

“And then in fourth grade I did it again, in fifth grade again and I thought, ‘You know, this is something so easy for me’, and then I started really learning what it was really doing, how important, how special it is," Rosenfeld said.

Now he’s 16 years and in charge of the organization Cutting it With Caleb, an ongoing hair donation drive.

“Over four or five years we’ve collected about 230 pony tails for about 2,500 inches," Rosenfeld said.

It turns out the COVID shutdown has helped. People are just starting to come back to get their hair cut and it’s often longer than normal.

"During this time of social distancing, many of you won’t have access to haircuts — so it's a silver lining opportunity to start considering growing your hair to donate! I have just donated my hair for the 5th time, and it continues to be among the most meaningful things I have ever done," he wrote in a message on his website.

Rosenfeld is using his platform and experience to encourage others to grow out their hair and donate it to make a difference in someone else's life.

"The way I see it, donating your hair is an extremely simple act of kindness where you can truly and literally give a piece of yourself to someone who really needs it," Rosenfeld writes. "People with cancer deal with so much on the inside and when you donate your hair, you have an opportunity to help them feel a little more like themselves on the outside."

In Manhattan, Ari Poltal at Eli’s Salon will cut your hair for free if you donate the leftovers.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Mike Sugerman/WCBS 880