Photo by Kyan Mahzouf.

On Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at L’Atelier Salon, stylists will volunteer their time offering haircuts and selling raffle tickets to benefit cancer and HIV/AIDS research and treatment programs at City of Hope, a clinical research center located in Southern California.

This annual nationwide campaign is in its fourth year at L’Atelier Salon. Salon manager Erica Penney said one employee, Nick Saporito, was integral in bringing the fundraiser to Santa Cruz.

“One of our stylists, Nick, brought this idea to us because it was very close to home for him,” Penney said.

Saporito spent a significant amount of time visiting Duarte, Calif. from 2005 to 2007 when his father was being treated for cancer.

“My dad was at City of Hope getting treated for his lymphoma,” Saporito said. “I learned about this nationwide campaign while I was there.”

The American Cancer Society estimates 11,714,000 people in the United States had cancer in 2007, according to their website. It is estimated that over 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States. When these serious diseases strike, resources run thin: patients often lose the ability to work, and medications are exorbitantly expensive.

Fundraisers and private donations are pivotal for City of Hope’s livelihood.

There will be a $40 minimum donation to receive a haircut during the fundraiser. Usually the salon staff performs about 70 haircuts throughout the day and raises roughly $4,000.

“It’s a cut-a-thon,” Saporito said. “We do haircuts for anybody at a flat rate. We also hold a raffle with great prizes. Most of the prizes are gift certificates or baskets from downtown businesses. We’ve got a little bit of everything.”

On the East Coast, hundreds of businesses participate in the City of Hope fundraiser. Salon manager Penney said L’Atelier is one of few on the West Coast to participate.

“Until this year, we were the only West Coast salon to participate,” Penney said. “Now there is one other in California doing it. I love participating in this fundraiser because City of Hope is such a great organization.”