By Calvin Petersen
In the largest-ever service event of its kind, BYU College of Nursing will partner with the Magic Yarn Project on March 17 to craft nearly 300 princess and pirate themed wigs for child cancer patients.
This is the second time BYU will host a wig workshop. Last year, the Wilkinson Student Center was filled with over 400 people knotting, braiding and decorating yarn hairpieces. “This is an awesome volunteer experience because you feel like what you’re doing is really helping someone,” said BYU nursing student Jessica Wright after the event. “It’s nice to wake up on a Saturday morning and do something for someone else,” agreed BYU student Sam Smith.
The Magic Yarn Project began in 2015 when BYU nursing alumna Holly Christensen (BS ’06), a resident of Palmer, Alaska, discovered that her friend’s daughter had cancer. “As an oncology nurse, one of the things I learned is that I can’t do everything, but I can do something,” Christensen says. For her, that meant crafting a Rapunzel wig out of soft yarn for the girl to wear.
The magic happened when the girl put on the wig. She twirled around in her pink Rapunzel dress, smiling and forgetting the painful world of cancer she had been in. Making more wigs wasn’t a hard decision for Christensen after that. She recruited a group of friends and asked for yarn donations on social media. Their story was picked by an online magazine and quickly got attention from news media across the United States.
So far, over 6,000 wigs have been delivered, at no cost, to child cancer patients across the world, according to Christensen. These wigs have been the efforts of thousands of volunteers at wig workshops similar to the one at BYU. In addition, women at a correctional facility in Alaska crochet beanie caps that serve as the base for each wig. Christensen herself dedicates more than 40 hours a week to the project on top of two weekly shifts as a nurse and raising her family.
“There have been times a little voice inside myself has said, ‘These are just wigs, this isn’t that important,’” Christensen says. “Then we get emails, and parents tell us how much it meant to them to see their daughter smile again after nothing but illness and needles and pain and hospitals. So, for these children and their families, they feel like this gives them a little bit of a normal life again, a glimpse of what it might be like when they get better.”
Christensen will travel to Provo to host the March 17 wig workshop, which will take place in BYU’s Wilkinson Student Center. Volunteers will make a variety of princess and pirate inspired wigs, which will be donated to Primary Children’s hospital and children throughout the world.
Anyone interested in participating can register for a two-hour time slot at www.eventbrite.com/e/the-magic-yarn-projects-byu-workshop-tickets-42923209475. No crocheting or advanced crafting skills are necessary. To make a monetary donation to the Magic Yarn Project or to learn more about the nonprofit, visit www.themagicyarnproject.com.