"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step," according to a Chinese proverb.

That same analogy can be used for clean-up efforts of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

For the past six weeks, oil has been pumping from a fractured oil well under the deep sea water. Crude oil has been threatening wetland wildlife refuges in Louisiana, and barrier islands in Mississippi and Alabama. The back tide of pollution has even reached some of the famous white beaches of Florida. The number of killed or injured birds and marine animals, including sea turtles and dolphins, is climbing.

It is the hope of several local residents that they can somehow aid in the clean-up of this colossal environmental catastrophe.

Melissa Haswell, Angie Lower and Jody Croft, hair stylists at the Hair Craze in Newcomerstown; Penny Hurd of Doggie Stylz by Penny in Newcomerstown; and hair stylists at Statements by Shannon in West Lafayette, are adding their assistance in the oil clean-up effort.

For the past several weeks, they have been collecting clean human and pet hair to be sent to the Gulf Coast as a way to form a barrier between the crude-colored water and land.

"We're collecting hair because the oil spill is a major event and we're glad to help out. We're not doing anything else with it," said Amanda Wright, hair stylist with Statements by Shannon.

According to ehow.com, "Hair does not absorb oil. Instead, the oil latches onto cracks and holes in the hair shaft. The hair has a scaly surface which allows the oil to penetrate the hair as it slides down the hair and slips into those cracks. Think of it like wearing a coat. A coat will protect you, but you would not actually absorb the coat. Hair and oil work in a similar manner. The hair is protected by the oil but is not absorbed."

The Newcomerstown donation is being donated to the Matter of Trust organization, which started in 1998 in California. The group is organizing one of the many efforts in trying to collect the crude before it reaches land. Recycled hair clippings are also made into hair "booms" which are sausage shaped. Hair is stuffed into recycled nylons (with mesh to provide a strong exterior). These booms are then tied together and used to keep oil from spreading.

Matter of Trust is also asking for wool and clean nylons, along with human and pet hair collections.

Monetary donations are also being accepted by visiting the Web site, www.matteroftrust.org or by mailing a check to: Matter of Trust Inc., 99 St. German Ave., San Franscisco, CA 94114.

Any and all help is welcome in the clean-up efforts. The U.S. government estimates that about 19,000 barrels per day of oil is leaking into the water. The oil spill, which has become the largest in U.S. history, is affecting everyone and everything in the Gulf Coast region.

Statements by Shannon stylists are also asking other salons within Coshocton County to collect their hair clippings and they will go around at the end of every month and collect them.

"We'll probably do it again," Haswell said about collecting another box of hair clippings to be donated to the oil spill clean-up.

"We just throw it away anyway," Croft added.