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Charity goes to ‘melons’

BY GRACE PATERAS | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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What started as a class project in Minnesota transformed into a nationwide phenomenon and has now made its way to Iowa City.

A group of University of Iowa students have joined together to spread the word for the organization Love Your Melon.

For every hat purchased through the University of Iowa representatives for the charity, a hat will be donated to kids at the UI Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

“I saw we didn’t have a group here, so I just contacted the two guys who started [Love Your Melon], and they said I can start it here,” said UI sophomore Tess Wilberding, the campus crew captain. “Our job is to make it so hats can go to the kids in the hospitals, and we would give them to them.”

Love Your Melon is a not-for-profit group started by two college students who met in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities.

In an effort to stop at nothing until every child battling cancer has received a hat, universities and high schools across the nation have joined teams to help.All hats, beanies, scarves, and shirts are made in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Wilberding started the UI chapter a couple of months ago, and she is in charge of spreading the message throughout the area.

To make its first delivery, the crew must sell 100 hats, and the two founders will send instructions with the hats on who will receive the gift. The founders have everything organized, Wilberding said, including all communication with the hospitals.

Currently, the crew has sold 62 hats. Each hat costs $30.

To get the word out, crew members have been using social-media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to inform locals about the organization, as well as handing out fliers and ribbons on campus.

Also, emails were sent to family members and friends of the crew for additional support.

At Iowa State University, a group has been involved in the organization since November 2014, when captain Emma Erdman initiated the group. They since have sold more than 300 Love Your Melon products.

Currently, the ISU crew is in the process of planning a donation event with Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

“In the meantime, we have events on campus. Like last week, we had a hot-chocolate event in which Hy-Vee donated free hot chocolate for us to hand out, [in addition to our] wristbands and pins for promotion,” Erdman said. “We try to keep our audience engaged.”

UI freshman Ariana Gevov first heard about the organization from her cousin.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a group was selling Love Your Melon products at a sidewalk stand. Her cousin, a Wisconsin student, bought hats for her siblings as Christmas presents, and Gevov wanted to join the cause as well.

“I thought it came around at such a funny time because I was so involved in Dance Marathon and the two came together in a nice way,” Gevov said. “I thought after doing Dance Marathon, I should probably support an organization like this because it’s doing such a great thing for a great cause.”

The crew at Michigan State University is opening up a store to sell Love Your Melon products, which inspired the UI chapter to continue its involvement, Wilberding said.

Goals for the UI crew are to continue growth and spreading the word on campus., she said.

“I hope to be giving to the hospital at least a few times, and to have events,” she said. “Maybe next year at Dance Marathon we will have a table booth and have people there, and also seeing people walking around campus wearing Love Your Melon products would be really cool, too.”


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