By Tim McCarthy
Students at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School will help Merrimack Valley women undergoing cancer treatments look their best.
Whittier's cosmetology students will be taking part in the American Cancer Society's "Look Good...Feel Better" program by providing wig fittings and beauty care to cancer patients. The Whittier salon can also supply the wigs to patients whose insurance won't cover the cost.
The prices are far lower than at salons elsewhere, school officials said.
To participate, students must first complete their mandatory 1,000 hours of salon experience and schedule their state licensing exam. Once they've met these criteria, they'll need to take a one-day workshop.
Cosmetology instructor Suzanne Anganes, who started the program at Whittier this fall, said she's been involved with the program for seven years. She previously ran the program at the Greater Lawrence Technical School for six years before coming to Whittier.
"I had several friends undergoing this and asked how I could help them," she said. "I could make them look good and feel good."
Students will learn proper care of artificial wigs and how to fit and style them.
Seniors Teal Kahn and Acadia Leathe are among the students looking forward to helping.
"Part of the recovery is feeling better about yourself," Teal said. "We can help somebody through a rough patch. You have to be supportive of them. It's emotional."
So far, Anganes said, she's amassed 25 donated wigs and plans to run a donation drive throughout the year. She'll also announce the program to parents and incoming students with a display at an upcoming Whittier open house.
"As soon as this gets out, I'm sure we'll get clients," she said. "Everyone knows somebody who had cancer."
More information about the program, donating wigs or booking an appointment is available by contacting the Whittier salon at 978-373-4101, ext. 348.