Hats for cancer

Sophomore Lauren Peterson starts a student chapter of Love Your Melon, an organization that provides hats and funding for children battling cancer.

Photo+courtesy+of+Christine+Tomlinson

Photo courtesy of Christine Tomlinson

Jehn Kubiak, Writer

Cancer is the most prominent cause of death by disease for children in America – about 15,780 children between birth and 19-years-old are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States alone, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. Sophomore public relations major Lauren Peterson has a passion for helping others in need and started a student chapter of Love Your Melon this semester to help change the lives of children with cancer and bring awareness to the cause.

INCREASINGS ITS PRESENCE

Love Your Melon seeks to provide hats for children in America battling cancer by selling hats, beanies, tanks and shirts. For each hat sold, they donate another hat to a child with cancer.

“It’s a buy-one-give-one program like Toms but instead of shoes, it’s hats for cancer,” Peterson said.

One of the organization’s founders, Brian Keller, attended Peterson’s high school, where she first got involved with the organization. Peterson is from Minnesota and said the company has a large presence in the Midwest, but is not as big on the west coast. She hopes to increase its presence here through a student chapter at Biola.

“It’s all over the nation, but the west coast is by far the smallest region of Love Your Melon, so I thought it would be really cool to bring it out here and share their mission in California,” Peterson said.

TAKING OUR HEALTH FOR GRANTED

Love Your Melon has an ambassadorship program where students can start a chapter and form a college crew promoting their mission and sells their products, such as hats. 50 percent of all proceeds from the hats go towards curing childhood cancer through the Pinky Swear Foundation. The other half goes to CureSearch, which helps provide immediate support for the children’s families through ways such as gas cards and foods.

The new student chapter allows for 10 to 20 people and currently has 16 members. Peterson said she originally did not plan to create a student chapter, but found out only four percent of research funds go towards curing childhood cancer. She wanted to help provide funding for kids with cancer and decided to kickstart a chapter at Biola.

“I think my health is something I take for granted and is something that a lot of people take for granted, so to give back and help out kids that don’t have a voice and need funding and need help curing their sickness is really awesome for me to see,” Peterson said.

PUTTING A SMILE ON A FACE

Peterson also aspires to work in nonprofit event planning with nonprofit organizations. Even though they started last month, the group has sold 19 hats and the members have a passion to help kids in need and change their lives.

“Even though we just started, it’s been so rewarding for me to see the passion behind my crew to help these kids and to help this cause is so fun,” Peterson said. “It’s so rewarding and it’s something I really love to do and something I’m passionate about.”

Senior elementary education major Bri Irons serves as chapter vice captain. Irons knew a child who passed away from cancer and became passionate about cancer research, specifically in pediatrics. Irons said she loves kids and enjoys spending time with them amid the difficult circumstances they face.

“I just love the idea of being able to put a smile on kids faces and give them hats and hang out with them — let them know that they’re loved when they’re going through such a hard time,” Irons said.

LACKING AWARENESS

Sophomore business major Allie Meredith is another member who knew someone that passed away from cancer. She said there is not a high level of awareness for childhood cancer and desired to help bring awareness to the cause.

“Childhood cancer is something that there’s barely and funding for and is something that isn’t a big thing,” Meredith said.

Peterson works with other crew captains at schools like California Polytechnic State University of Pomona, University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California, sharing ideas to further the company’s mission and ideas for new products. There are about 25 chapters on the west coast and she also plans to partner with them for sales events in order to help as many children as possible. In addition, she is brainstorming ideas for other events and hopes to partner with hospitals to deliver hats to children with her crew.

“We’ll be able to get to know the families and what they’re all about, so that’ll be really fun,” Peterson said.

WORTH IT AND NECESSARY

Even though she has not been personally affected by cancer, she has seen how organizations like Love Your Melon change lives. Peterson said Love Your Melon distracts the kids from their circumstances when they visit them at hospitals and get to know who they are as a people. She aims to touch their lives in a similar way with her group.

“For us to go in and to be able to help them directly and to do games and crafts and give them a hat and hang out with them — I think that it’s so worth it and it’s so necessary for their well-being, for this whole process that they’re going through to feel encouraged and to feel loved,“ Peterson said.

Irons looks forward hanging out with the kids at the hospitals as a member of Love Your Melon.  Meredith looks forward to dressing up as a superhero and delivering hats to the children while bringing them joy and happiness.

“Just having this organization that works to take the kids minds off cancer and going to the hospital and trying to bring them joy and take their mind off their sickness,” Meredith said

Peterson encourages students to visit the company’s website and browse the products. Students can enter Love Your Melon Biola Campus Crew when they checkout online. The group receives incentives for each hat sold, such as delivering a hat to a child’s home if they sell 100 hats. In addition, the group has a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter.

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