With her long, milk-chocolate-brown hair parted into two ponytails, Erin Neil sat nervously as Loft Spa hairstylist Jess Seibenick stood behind her, scissors in hand.

“Ready?” Seibenick asked.

“Yep,” Neil quickly replied.

With that, Seibenick took her scissors to Neil’s hair and started chopping 10 inches off.

“Oh that noise,” Neil said. But once the deed was done, Neil couldn’t help but exclaim “woo hoo” at the result.

For the third time, Neil was cutting her hair to donate to Locks of Love. The nonprofit collects hair donations and makes wigs for children under 21 who are suffering long-term medical hair loss.

Neil first went under the scissors for Locks of Love when she was a senior in high school in Helena. Her second experience was when she was 25. And her third was Wednesday, on her 30th birthday.

Turning 30 isn’t too daunting for Neil, a maternal-newborn nurse at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

“I think I’m ready. I’ve had a career for eight years. And when you say you’re in your 20s, people assume you’re in college. I’m ready,” she said.

Hitting that milestone wasn’t making Neil nervous, but cutting her hair for a good cause was.

“Every time, I get nervous,” Neil said, staring in a full-length mirror at the spa in downtown Bozeman.

But compassion is in her nature, so nerves be damned, she said.

“I’m a nurse. I like to help people,” Neil said.

She isn’t the only one. Seibenick said her salon regularly gets customers who are donating their hair to Locks of Love.

“We get a fair bit,” Seibenick said.

The stylists at the Loft give those donating their locks to the program complimentary haircuts.

“It’s kind of our way of thanking people,” Seibenick said.

And it’s a simple way to help, Neil said.

“It’s such an easy thing for me to do,” she said. “All you do is just grow your hair. There’s no real time commitment.”

Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648.

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