Land O’ Lakes teen makes habit of donating her locks
By Jeff Odom
When it comes to helping others facing hardship, 13-year-old Lila Baker is no stranger.
The Pine View Middle eighth-grader has been donating her hair to Locks of Love since she was a kindergartener. While it’s hard for her to recall the first time giving to those who have lost their hair due to cancer or other treatment, she knows the idea came from her mother, Denise.
“My mom took me for the first time when I was in kindergarten, 5 years old?” Lila said. “I don’t really remember it. It was a long time ago.”
Lila has donated her hair three more times since that first trip to the hair stylist, giving a total of 48 inches, or 4 feet.
Denise said she got the idea to have herself and Lila donate from a friend and is amazed at how much passion her daughter has for helping those faced with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
“We used to live in Orlando, and I was a teacher, and I had a friend that donated her hair, and I thought ‘Oh wow, that’s pretty cool,’” Denise said. “So, when we moved (to Land O’ Lakes) I decided to donate my hair and Lila said ‘That’s really cool mommy.’ So, I decided to take her. … Her hair grows fast, and she wants to go every two years and donate again.”
Outside of her donations to Locks of Love, Lila has been a member of the Girl Scouts since she was 5 and is a member of Pine View’s school band. She is also a student-athlete, competing in girls soccer as a defender for Central Pasco USA and track at her school.
Her academic record in mathematics and science gave her the opportunity to join the National Junior Honors Society (NJHS) and take the SAT as a seventh-grader.
Lila is currently in the planning stages for her Silver Award with the scouts and hopes to deliver goodie bags with pens, stickers and humorous stories to cancer patients around the Tampa Bay area. She calls the project a Bag of Sunshine.
“(My mom and I have) been tossing out some ideas and maybe we could write little, funny stories and make cute little pens to give to them and make them happy,” Lila said.
As for her future, Lila hopes to pursue a career in pharmacy or education, but said the door is wide open to what may interest her. Denise said she could do anything she puts her mind to because of her work ethic and dedication to what she believes in.
“She is an amazing young lady,” Denise said. “Teachers always have great things to say about her and how well mannered and sweet she is. She’s just a very giving person with the service to the Girl Scouts and also giving her hair to help other people.”
Lila added, she learned the importance of giving through her mother and wants to continue helping others as long as she can.
“It’s just the right thing to do to put yourself before people and help people out,” Lila said. “It gives you a really good feeling afterwards, knowing that you helped someone who needed it.”