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MILLERSBURG -- When Dawn Gamertsfelder and Deb Stadler started Hair for Hope more than eight years ago, they had no idea how many lives they would touch.
Gamertsfelder guesses Hair for Hopes has provided close to 200 wigs for Holmes County cancer patients in the eight years they have been providing their service.
"It all started in 2008 with my mother-in-law while she was getting treatment for breast cancer," Gamertsfelder said. "There was a place down in Coshocton where they provided wigs for cancer patients. When I came back from taking her there, Deb still had her beauty shop, and I told her we've got to do this. This is so good.
"When I have somebody put a wig on and they are so thrilled with how they look, it makes me feel like I'm doing more for them," Gamertsfelder continued. "I can't give them medicine, but I can make them look good. I can make them feel better about themselves and make them look good, which makes me feel good.
"I had a husband that said he didn't even know his wife had a wig on, it matched so well with the way she wore her hair," she added. "That's what doing this is all about."
Hair for Hope is a nonprofit organization that Stadler and Gamertsfelder started on a whim, and it has taken off through the extreme generosity of many businesses and individuals who have contributed over the years.
"We started out by hitting up the banks, and we held some benefits," Gamertsfelder said.
Then there are other organizations, like Women in Network (WIN), that look for places to donate dollars from their fundraisers.
"The ladies of WIN presented us with a check for $800 from a fundraiser they held on Dec. 17," Stadler said. "That was during the horrible weather, when we had that ice storm."
"They just don't know how much that means," Gamertsfelder added.
WIN is a group of women that own their own direct sales, home-based type businesses or crafts makers who want to be a part of the group. Arlene Miller heads up the group.
"We have a Tupperware dealer, a Mary Kay consultant, people from all sorts of direct sales companies," Miller said. "We're a group of ladies who get together once a month to share ideas about how to help each other with our businesses. We share tips about how to grow it, get referrals and that kind of thing. We meet at Jitters every month. Every once in a while we decide to do an event where we pick an organization to benefit."
The organization to benefit from the December event was Hair for Hope.
The weather the day of the event was horrible, as it was wet and icy and extremely dangerous, yet they raised $800 for Hair for Hope.
"We had different vendors set up with their products to sell at Zinck's Inn in Berlin," Miller said. "We had products we raffled off. People who rented booth space but didn't come because of the weather, their money went towards Hair for Hope. We were really surprised how well we did in spite of the bad weather."
Gamertsfelder is glad she got involved with such a wonderful program.
"Deb (Stadler) leads people in my direction. I'm retired now, so I do this out of my house," she said.
Hair for Hope tries to buy the wigs for around $75, as well as supplies, such as heads upon which to store the wigs when not in use.
If you know someone who could use their service or would like to donate, feel free to contact Dawn Gamertsfelder at 330-674-1709 or Deb Stadler at 330-231-2671.
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.