What started as a fun quarantine haircut has now raised more than $7,000 for children in the foster care system. 
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Allan Baltz
Credit: Courtesy of Lesli Baltz

Eleven-year-old Allan Baltz of Jonesboro, Arkansas, is familiar with the foster care system. When he and his twin sister Alice were only four, they came to live with Derek and Lesli Baltz. Lesli said she and her husband became foster parents with the intention of helping kids reunite with their families, but their plans changed when it became apparent that reunification wasn't an option for Allan and Alice.

"We were really terrified that we weren't good enough parents to keep them forever," she told Southern Living. "So, we really worked through that a lot, and it became obvious that they were meant to be ours whether we felt like we were good enough or not."

The twins were officially adopted in 2015, two years after they first walked through the Baltz's front door. Last fall when Allan got an opportunity to pay it forward, he made it count.

It all started as a fun quarantine project. Lesli said during the height of the 2020 shutdown, she and her husband were looking for a creative way to keep their kids entertained at home, so the family decided to switch up their hairstyles. Lesli dyed her hair red. Alice went teal. Derek tried out a mustache, and Allan requested a mullet. Lesli figured they'd cut the mullet and shave it off by the time school started back, but when the pandemic dragged on, the mullet persevered. Soon she found herself taking Allan to get it permed for a little extra flair.

Baltz Family
Credit: Courtesy of Lesli Baltz

"He really fell in love with it," she said. "He thought it was hysterical. It was hideous, and it embarrassed his sister. Everywhere he went, people were like 'Nice hair, man.' He thinks it's the greatest thing, and he really owns it."

When friends reached encouraged Allan to enter the USA Mullet Championships competition, Lesli said Allan initially wasn't interested because he though he couldn't win. However, once he learned there was a cash prize, he changed his tune. 

"He instantly was like 'Oh, OK. I can do it, and we'll give the money to kids in foster care,'" Lesli said. "He didn't hesitate. He didn't say, 'I can get a bike, then give some money away.' It was just instant that he wanted to give it away."

Determined to win, Allan put on his best suit, grabbed his father's mountain biking sunglasses, and started posing. After submitting his photo and following up with several weeks of campaigning, Allan took home the top prize in the kid's division with more than 25,000 votes in his favor. 

Allan Baltz
Credit: Courtesy of Lesli Baltz

He split his winnings between two local foster care organizations, Together We Foster and Project Zero, but his impact went far beyond just the $2,500 he donated. During his mullet campaign, Allan was vocal about what he'd do with the money if he won. His giving heart inspired others to do the same, and he ended up raising an additional $4,500 for the two organizations.

"People also started volunteering … and donating clothing, beds, and diapers," Lesli said. "A few people that we know decided to start fostering because of Allan's story. The way that people hear it and it inspires them to do something about the foster care crisis is really incredible. We're just sitting back in awe and hoping that it continues to inspire more people to make a difference."

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Lesli said she couldn't be prouder of Allan's heart for helping others and feels truly lucky to be his mom. 

"Just as a mom to see what he has been through and what he has overcome, he has every excuse to be unkind and bitter, but he's not," she said. "He truly gives and loves more than anybody I know. I'm just so proud of him and of who he is, and I'm so grateful that I get to raise him."