Love Your Melon aims to help cancer’s youngest victims

Meg Schlesinger and Madi Hively of Love Your Melon. Photo by Olivia Storer.

Last year Erin Nelson, crew leader of McDaniel’s Love Your Melon branch, was given the opportunity to visit Sinai hospital in Baltimore. Nelson and other members of the campus group saw first-hand the impact that their visit had on the kids.

“It was amazing,” said Nelson. “The kid’s faces lit up and their parents were so thankful. We were able to hang out with them and just give them the opportunity to interact with people outside of their family and the hospital staff that they see every day.”

Late last month, hundreds of Love Your Melon campus crews across the county celebrated the fifth anniversary of the University of St. Thomas-born foundation. The annual celebration of the charity’s establishment, which works to improve the lives of children battling cancer, is known as Love Your Melon Day. Among the groups celebrating the occasion was the one here at McDaniel College.

This year, the national organization honored the day by visiting more than 150 hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses along with releasing a new children’s book. Meanwhile, on campus, Nelson and her crew focused on creating more awareness for the charity with the help of social media.

“We set up tables outside of ‘Glar (Englar Dinning Hall) to promote what Love Your Melon does, we do social media posts and try and go around campus encouraging people to purchase beanies,” said Nelson. “Every time someone buys a hat from Love Your Melon they donate a hat to a kid battling cancer.”

The McDaniel crew, which now has 30 members, was started last year by a group of students involved in the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and now includes members from other organizations on campus.

“A girl in our sorority pitched the idea to us last year and we all fell in love with it straight away,” recalled Nelson. “It’s just one of those things that you want to be a part of. The beanies are really cute and it’s such a good cause!”

As an organization, Love Your Melon arranges hospital visits where campus crews deliver the beanies to sick children and spend time with them and their families. Madi Hively, a McDaniel sophomore and member of Love Your Melon, explains how these hospital visits were one of the reasons she joined the club in her freshman year.

“I discovered Love Your Melon online and loved everything they stood for so when I found out that we had a club on campus I knew I wanted to join,” said Hively. “My favorite thing we do are the hospital visits, I’m really looking forward to going on one. They are such a great opportunity to see how much of an impact this organization can make on people’s lives.”

As for the future of the McDaniel branch, increased awareness is the goal, particularly when it comes to social media.

“Love Your Melon has a credit system,” explained Nelson. “You get 0.25 credits for every follower your crew has on social media and that credit level builds to the opportunity to do events centred around helping kids with cancer.”

These events include swab drives for bone marrow matches, hospital visits, Ronald McDonald House dinners and Make a Wish reveals.

“The more people that are aware of us and our presence on campus, the more we can do!” said Nelson.

New member Caitlin Lamm, who joined Love Your Melon to become more involved here at McDaniel, simply explained the importance of spreading awareness on campus.

“We need to get the word out so people become aware of our cause and buy more hats!” said Lamm.

In its sixth year of establishment the national Love Your Melon organization continues to positively impact the lives of children and families across the country through the work of crews and leaders like Nelson and the members of the McDaniel organization.

Fueled by the knowledge that they can make a real difference in the lives of children living with cancer, the McDaniel Love Your Melon crew will continue to spread its message and promote the great work that it does.

“Childhood cancer sucks,” said Nelson. “Getting to be a part of their lives and making them feel a little better during the process makes everything worth it!”