Josiah's golden gift: 4-year-old gives all for a cause

If you were a 4-year-old boy going in for his first haircut, would you be:

A. Nervous?

B. Angry?

C. Ecstatic?

For young Josiah Milcic, the answer is “C” — he was truly ecstatic.

“People won’t think I’m a girl anymore,” he said with a big smile.

The haircut was Josiah’s idea. His parents were understanding, but a little distraught at the loss of nearly a foot of reddish-blonde curls. Curls that will be donated to the Florida-based “Locks of Love,” a national program that creates and supplies wigs for children who’ve lost hair due to health problems.

Why wait four years for Josiah’s first trip to a barber?

“There were just all these ringlets and more ringlets... and they were so beautiful,” said his mom, Chris Milcic, who let out a big sigh, explaining they just didn’t have the heart to cut them off. Her hair is the same shade, and just as curly.

Josiah’s dad, Mark, said, “I think we’d have let (those curls) keep on growing, but he was just becoming so adamant about getting them cut off. He didn’t want to be called a girl any more.”

Prior to the haircut last Tuesday, Dec. 18, The young Josiah looked a bit like Shirley Temple in her prime.

But mom said he’s all boy, and loves to ride his bike hard and play soldier, among other boy activities. He was wearing his best play-soldier’s outfit while shopping with mom in Seattle recently, when a stranger, a woman, commented on how cute he was — and then called him “G.I. Jane.”

Mom said that was the last straw — for Josiah.

So the couple contacted Earl Armstrong, a cosmetologist and member of their church, and asked him if he’d do the deed. They told him they’d heard of the organization, Locks of Love, and were going to donate Josiah’s head of hair so that his beautiful locks could have another life — a life beyond the cosmetologist’s garbage can.

“I thought it was an awesome idea,” said Arm-strong at his shop “Earl’s New Attitudes” on Wheaton Way. “But you two (Mark and Chris) are going to have to get me some bodyguards for me when my wife, Patricia, sees what I did to your boy.”

Armstrong said his wife loves Josiah’s locks as much as Josiah’s parents.

Speaking seriously, Armstrong said this was the first time someone had asked him for hair to be cut and given as a donation to the non-profit Locks of Love.

“If I had the opportunity, I’d do more of this. Somebody’s going to love to get this hair,” Armstrong said.

As Josiah eagerly snuggled into the barber chair and the scissors snipped and the locks began to come off, dad commented “I’m going to get myself a new kid.” Mom said “Isn’t it amazing what hair can do (to your appearance)?”

Halfway through the haircut, the lights in the shop suddenly went out — like some kind of omen.

Everyone laughed nervously. Armstrong went out back, the lights came back on, and when he returned he laughed and said the main breaker had been thrown, “probably by some kids.”

When the haircut was done, most of Josiah’s locks were put in a plastic bag. Mom kept a small ringlet “for the baby book.”

Dad told Josiah’s older brother, Mark, whose hair was just like his dad’s — black and straight without a ringlet in sight — that he’ll “finally have a little brother.”

Of the haircut, Mark said, “It’s cool. Now it won’t bother us anymore.”

To which the parents said maybe Mark was tired of Josiah getting all the attention with all that hair.

Mark Milcic has worked at PSNS 22 years. He currently works in quality control and was previously a nuclear instructor. His wife of 15 years, Chris, was formerly an electrician at the yard. Mr. Milcic said that’s where the couple met.

The family homeschools and belongs to Abundant Life Foursquare Church. They lived in Bremerton until recently, and are now staying in Silverdale while looking for a new home.

“This is going to take some getting used to,” said dad as he rubbed his son’s shorn head.

All Josiah did was smile.

All About Locks of Love

Cathleen Cason, executive assistant to the director of Locks of Love in Palm Springs, Fla. said the organization transforms lives.

“Parents of children who’ve lost hair often tell us their kids used to be involved in sports or music or other activities, but then stopped,” she said. “Children can become shy and withdrawn. Even if they’re not teased, they feel they stand out. When they get a new head of hair that’s real hair, they come out of their shell.”

Locks is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to disadvantaged children under the age of 18 who’ve lost their hair due to health problems. The organization, created in 1997, has helped more than 600 children. Children comprise more than 80 percent of the donors. Each hairpiece takes four months to create.

For guidelines on the types of hair accepted, and the way the hair must be packaged and delivered, call Locks of Love at (561) 963-1677.

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