By Jenelle Pierce, Staff Writer –
On Friday, Feb. 28, Love Your Melon is hosting a donation drive in the tabling area of the University Center lobby with the mission of improving the lives of children diagnosed with cancer.
The student organization focuses on awareness and care for these children, and their plan is to collect as many items as possible to take to those being treated.
On average, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer each day. For children, living with a disease like cancer can often mean you don’t get to act, or be treated, like a kid.
“We’re hoping people bring children’s books, toys, and travel-size toiletries,” Brooking Peterson, President of the UTC Chapter of Love Your Melon said of the drive. “Really anything for kids from ages 5 to 13.”
National organization Love Your Melon, the chapter’s parent organization, has made it their mission to make sure that children who are staying in the hospital get to have fun and feel special. They sell beanies that help raise money for charities that support children with cancer.
They also have campus crews, like the one at UTC, which help deliver beanies to children in hospitals, organize donation drives, and spread awareness about childhood cancer. Due to the nature of Love Your Melon, campus crews cannot collect monetary donations, so they ask that people bring new, unopened items for the drive.
Peterson said her favorite part of being in Love Your Melon is getting to bring joy to children during the hospital visits.
“It’s about educating people and making [the children’s] lives feel more normal,” Peterson said. “We dress up like superheroes and we play with them and just have fun. We don’t treat them differently just because they have cancer.”
The group regularly makes visits to places like Erlanger’s Children’s Oncology and The Ronald McDonald house.
Current VP and former president Savannah Michaels expressed a similar sentiment about making the children’s lives a little brighter.
Both Michaels and Peterson were concerned about the stigma that seems to surround hospitalized children which paints them as sickly and fragile.
“When we visit the kids, we just try to maintain normalcy and spread joy,” Michaels said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself from them. I didn’t realize I could feel so much love for people I didn’t even know.”
They also said that they are always looking to recruit new members. For all events and information, Love Your Melon can be found on MocSync. The chapter leaders also suggested anyone interested explore Love Your Melon’s website, where you can purchase one of their beanies or even request one for a child battling cancer.