By Sierra Stivala
We pull at split ends. We grunt at tangled knots. But mostly, we take it all for granted. Thousands of children do not have the privilege of these inconveniences. Their battle runs much deeper.
Each year, more than 15,000 children will be diagnosed with some form of cancer that causes them to lose their hair — this is where Love Your Melon comes in. Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller, college students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., founded the apparel shop as a means to reach out to these young warriors.
Love Your Melon uses the proceeds from each hat sale to provide the same one to a childhood cancer patient. Put simply, “Love Your Melon is an apparel brand run by college students across the country on a mission to give a hat to every child battling cancer in America,” according to its website.
Quinn and Keller decided to make their organization nationwide, establishing a network of college students called Love Your Melon Ambassadors. According to the Love Your Melon website, 2,500 college students at over 225 different schools across the country have signed on as ambassadors to help donate hats.
The College’s Love Your Melon crew leader, junior art education major Emily Vogel, affirms the mission, “Remember not all superheroes wear capes, but they do wear hats!”
However, when a product is purchased, customers give a child far more than just a hat — they give them a memory. Each hat is delivered by college students dressed as superheroes. The hats are given to children everywhere, including hospitals, long-term stay facilities, camps and households.
According to the Love Your Melon website, a portion of the proceeds goes to research and support partnerships. Love Your Melon donates 25 percent of the net proceeds to CureSearch, a nonprofit organization that funds nationwide childhood cancer research. CureSearch is renowned for its exceptional panel of doctors and first-rate research initiatives. In partnering with CureSearch, Love Your Melon leaders have the opportunity to see the money they raised being put to work by attending conferences and touring lab facilities.
In addition, 25 percent of Love Your Melon’s net proceeds go to the Pinky Swear Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides immediate support to childhood cancer patients and their families. Their mission is to help alleviate some of the stresses that families endure throughout the treatment process. In doing so, the organization has a positive impact on the survival rate of the children themselves. Its efforts include providing relief for rent payments and home mortgages as well as supplying gas cards and funds for therapeutic programs, according to its website.
Over the course of three years, Love Your Melon has reserved hats for over 45,000 children. These 45,000 hats will be officially delivered by the year’s end along with an astonishing one million dollar donation between the two organizations. Still, Quinn and Keller see no intentions of downsizing in sight.
The two recently launched the Love Your Melon Campus Crew Program. This initiative allows schools across the country to join in on the efforts. Participating schools receive credit for each item sold under their crew name. As the first week of sales comes to a close, the College has earned eight credits. Vogel stated that the school’s goal is to reach 100 credits, signifying a superhero household donation.
Those interested in joining Love Your Melon’s cause can enter a waiting list to become an official crew member. While there are only 20 crew member positions available on the College’s campus, the organization is looking for additional volunteers for its special events. Even more, anyone can support the cause by going online and purchasing a cap, wristband or T-shirt. For the College to receive credit, all you have to do is select the school under the drop-down bar.
The uniqueness of this charity is its universal appeal. From a product standpoint, there’s a beanie, baseball cap, visor or shirt for everyone. From a charity standpoint, no one can argue the strength of the cause. Junior psychology major and crew member Maria Ciccone describes the organization in one word — unity.
“I believe it brings everyone together to fight the same cause,” Ciccone said. “Adults, teenagers, boys, girls, are all wearing Love Your Melon gear. It does not leave anyone out.”
Crew members are working hard to create awareness and spread Love Your Melon’s precious mission. They encourage everyone to go online and see what it’s all about. After all, it’s never too late to put on a cap and save the day.