About 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Managing the condition requires administering insulin throughout the day, especially when consuming meals high in carbs, which raise blood sugar more than other nutrients. Over time, chronically elevated blood sugar can lead to nerve and kidney damage and cardiovascular disease.
Senior Jo Putnam works on a wig.
Pollard said she became emotional at the thought of helping those in such a dire time of their lives when her students' wigs were delivered to The Gathering Place.
Pollard stepped up her donation last year to ,000 and, this year, made it ,000.
She said the goal this year is to have her students make 40 wigs. But, she also has another goal in mind.
Last year, Pollard said she contacted 200 schools across Ohio that offer cosmetology classes and asked that each make and donate at least one wig to a cancer patient.
"That way," she said, "we'd have 200 more wigs."
Pollard didn't hear back from any of the schools she contacted, but hopes that some did contribute wigs.
She is, this year, again challenging these schools, and is looking to challenge those in another state, to make and donate wigs to cancer patients.
"They don't have to contact me or anything," Pollard said. "They just have to donate at least one wig. That's all I care about, that cancer patients get their wigs."
Because so many people in society are forced to deal with cancer -- either a diagnosis of a family member, friend or themselves -- several students in Pollard's class have been touched by cancer. All have been happy to do what they can for those going through such an ordeal.
Seniors Serenity Jackson and Larrian Redmond had grandmothers diagnosed with cancer.
"My grandmother died from breast cancer about six years ago," said Redmond, who recently completed making an 18-inch-long blond wig and who has started making another. "So, when I was growing up, I wanted to give something back."
Said Jackson: "I feel like we're giving back. There's a lot of people with cancer who want to have wigs. It's like stress being relieved for them."
Jackson called the experience of being able to bring some relief to a cancer patient "mind blowing." She has also completed one wig and started on a second.
The cosmetology class also consists of students from other schools, including Shaker Heights High and Warrensville Heights High.
Shaker Heights High senior Morgan Bynum takes a bus daily to finish her school day at Cleveland Heights High.
While Bynum said she has not personally been touched by cancer, she does look forward to giving the wigs to patients.
"It's a great feeling to be able to give them a fantastic wig and to know they're going be be excited about it. I think it will be a good feeling if they're pleased with what we worked on," she said.
Kristina Austin, The Gathering Place's chief marketing officer, said donated wigs are much appreciated by those the organization serves in Beachwood and at its Westlake location.
"Wigs can be expensive; there's a wide range of costs," Austin said. "But when you've been diagnosed with cancer, there are so many things to think about and so many costs from treatment that you don't always have the time or money to buy a wig.
"For women who have hair loss, it can be an extremely traumatic experience, so a wig can be comforting."
Austin said people donate wigs or money to buy them to The Gathering Place. Donors, however, do not get to see who wears their wigs. "That can be a very private matter for patients," she said.
"We are extremely grateful to anyone who offers support and help," she said. "It can really make a difference in the life of someone dealing with cancer."
When the students graduate from the two-year CHHS cosmetology program, they will be prepared to take the state test for licensure in their new profession. And, in the case of these students, when they start work as cosmetologists, they'll come fully equipped with a lesson in humanity that is beyond what can be taught in a classroom.