STORY BY SARAH GROSSMAN
Last Saturday, Drake University received its first shipment of “Love Your Melon” gear.
Love Your Melon is a one-for-one non-profit organization that donates one hat for each purchased to children with cancer.
The idea originated at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota from two men, Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller who were assigned the task of creating a non-profit for a class capstone project.
Once they graduated, they took the idea and made it a reality.
Love Your Melon is spreading across the Midwest and has made its way Drake University via Elyse Webb, senior psychology and education double major.
“I have a good friend from back at home who goes to University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and she was really heavily involved with it,” Webb said. “I just really fell in love with it. She explained how I could get the program started, and then I did.”
This friend, Christine Tomlinson, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Minnesota, explained her passion for Love Your Melon and the possible reasons behind its growth.
“Love Your Melon is one of the coolest organizations I’m a part of,” Tomlinson said. “Instead of a lot of the cancer non-profits that stress to donate money … Love Your Melon does something where you can physically see your purchase help a child battle cancer.”
Tomlinson first introduced Webb to the program in December.
“Well, honestly, when I learned about Love Your Melon, I was so obsessed with the mission, and I still think its just an amazing organization,” Tomlinson said. “When I was home from winter break I saw Elyse and started talking about it, I think it was just me being a little annoying … talking about it all the time.”
From there, Webb officially started the program at Drake on Feb. 1.
Webb is currently building her crew and Love Your Melon’s popularity around campus.
“I just charted this organization here and so basically, my crew and I, we have 17 people total, and it’s mostly seniors,” Webb said. “We’ve been looking for younger people too, but we’re just letting people know of the product release date. If they (the customer) chooses Drake University campus crew on the website, then we get that one credit that their hat was sold from our area, meaning that a hat will be sent back to our area.”
The organization’s impact will directly affect the Des Moines community.
When the Drake University crew sells 100 hats, another 100 hats will be taken a local hospital to be donated.
“My crew and I will go dressed as superheroes, and we’ll get to meet all the kids and all the doctors,” Webb said. “We’ll spend a whole day of programming with them and we’ll get their hats to them. I think when the kids receive the hats, not only is it a cute, comfortable hat that warms their little heads, but it’s just another reinforcement that someone is looking out for them and recognizes that they are very strong human beings for being five-years old. I think it has a strong impact.”
While the company is steadily growing, the crew is struggling to keep up with the demand.
“So, the thing that I think Drake doesn’t understand, that a lot of people are getting frustrated with, even my crew, is that our hats keep selling out, which is good,” Webb said. “But, within the last 11 weeks this organization has sky rocketed. We have tripled in size, so they don’t even know how to manufacture enough hats.”
While sales are important, Webb highlights the significance of giving back to the community.
“The hardest part that my crew and I are trying to do right now is to let Drake know that it is a staple organization that you should invest in because these children are from our area,” Webb said.