When Molly Gaughan and Amanda Nowell visited the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey with their friends, they met a little girl named L.J.
Gaughan, a junior early childhood education major, said she was tearing up when spending time with L.J., who suffers from cancer. The experience was “really eye-opening,” Gaughan said.
“L.J. sang ‘Fight Song’ in front of everyone and she knew every word,” Gaughan said. “You wouldn’t know she had cancer by how she acts, running around and having so much energy.”
“[L.J’s] been battling cancer pretty much her entire life, but it doesn’t even phase her,” said Nowell, a senior criminal justice major and co-founder of the group. “She was dancing like crazy and loved her beanie. It was a life-changing night for sure.”
Gaughan and Nowell visited the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Camden, New Jersey, with the Temple chapter of Love Your Melon, an apparel brand that doubles as a national student organization and has been on Main Campus since October 2015. Love Your Melon has a mission to donate a handmade beanie to every child battling cancer in America. For each $30 hat purchased, Love Your Melon donates another to children in hospitals. Half of the proceeds from hat sales go to the Pinky Swear Foundation and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer.
Love Your Melon’s Temple chapter has already sold 492 hats and was featured on FOX29 in an interview with Jenn Frederick.
“When you go to checkout, there’s a little drop-down box that says, ‘Select a Campus Crew,’ so for every product bought in our name, it gives us a credit,” said Abigail Green, a junior nursing major and secretary of the Temple chapter.
Once a chapter accumulates enough credits, it becomes eligible to earn more visiting privileges. The Temple chapter recently gained the privilege of going on a house visit to spend time with a child battling cancer. At the Ronald McDonald House visit where Gaughan met L.J., the Temple chapter helped children make superhero masks and threw a dance party.
Their next goal of 500 credits will allow the team to visit children at a hospital, like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The crew has sold 492 hats, good for 492 credits.
In addition to selling beanies, the crew plans to continue holding events, like a fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings on Nov. 18, 2015. The fundraisers help to purchase hats to sell on campus and will be donated to cancer research foundations. The crew also plans to participate in the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, which supports the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, on April 2.
The Love Your Melon brand began as an entrepreneurship class project between two students at the University of St. Thomas in 2012. Today, more than 7,500 students are involved in the mission at about 500 different colleges.
The members have been working on becoming an official club and chose Sue Stamps, an adjunct professor in the College of Education, as their advisor.
Although only 20 students can be admitted to a Love Your Melon crew like Temple’s, each year graduating students can be replaced with newcomers. The Temple chapter also has an active wait list, which allows students to get involved with the organization’s events.
“We’re just excited to be able to sell on campus,” said Erin McComb, a junior nursing major and co-founder of the group. “We’re trying so hard to be an official campus club, so we can have tables and fundraisers here.”
Casey Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.