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'Happy Hair' is here: Group crochets whimsical wigs for kids with cancer

Judy Krause, left, works on a Happy Hair wig, along with Laura Schiller, right, and Sharein Berninghaus (not pictured). The whimsical wigs will be donated to kids with cancer at Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)1 / 4
Happy Hair wigs are modeled after the Magic Yarn Project whimsical wigs. All wigs are made with very soft yarn because they will be donated to kids who have lost their hair due to chemo therapy treatments for cancer. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 2 / 4
Happy Hair wigs are patterned after Disney and other characters. A group of women from Alexandria recently started the project and hope to make 100 wigs by Feb. 1. They will be donated to Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 3 / 4
Judy Krause of Alexandria works on a Happy Hair wig that is modeled after the character Jack Sparrow from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean." Other wigs are modeled after Disney princesses and other characters. The wigs will be donated to children with cancer. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 4 / 4

A small group of women from Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria are on a mission for kids with cancer and they need the public's help.

If you know how to crochet and would like to donate your time, or you would simply like to donate supplies, they'd love to hear from you.

Their mission? To make 100 "Happy Hair" wigs for children with cancer.

Happy Hair is loosely modeled after the Magic Yarn Project, based in Alaska. Both projects make whimsical yarn wigs for kids battling cancer. Happy Hair, however, will be donating all their wigs to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Laura Schiller, who moved to Alexandria in June, was talking with her sister, Kimberly Bohnenstingl of Nowthen, who actually came up with the idea. The sisters know a little something about cancer having lost their mom to ovarian cancer in 2014.

"The reason my sister wanted to do this project was because she was looking for a way to serve God and put a smile on a child's face," said Schiller, whose husband, Tim, has been the pastor at Good Shepherd Church since January.

The whimsical wigs, she said, are modeled after Disney princesses and other characters such as Rapunzel, Jack Sparrow from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons.

Schiller said because a cancer patient's scalp becomes so sensitive from chemo treatments, the wigs are made from very soft yarn, including brands like Caron Simply Soft and Red Heart With Love.

Alexandria wig makers include Schiller, Sharein Berninghaus, Judy Krause and mother-daughter duo, Heather and Tricia Manis.

Krause, who works at Alex Assisted Living, said that some of the residents there have helped make the beanie part of the wig and that the business also donated $100 for supplies.

"We would like to thank them for doing that," said Krause, who learned how to crochet many years ago, but said she had failed at it so she gave it up. Now, because of this project, she has relearned how to crochet and said she can probably make two wigs a day.

The wigs begin with a crocheted beanie and then the yarn hair is added by using a latch hook or crochet needle.

Berninghaus, also new to crocheting, said that although she's not the best yet, "It makes you feel good to do something like this, especially this time of year."

Schiller said her sister, Bohnenstingl, received a $250 action grant through Thrivent to help pay for supplies and that she also will apply for an action grant of the same amount. Six to 8 ounces of yarn are needed to make the hair for one wig, she said, and she can typically make three or four beanies from one skein of yarn.

The women are looking for other people to join them and have formed a group on Facebook, simply called Happy Hair. Schiller has also set up an email — — for those want more information about the group and its mission. In addition, you can call or text her at 712-253-8668. The group wants to complete the 100 wigs by Feb. 1.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.

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