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The Simpsonian

Editorial: What’s to love about Love Your Melon?

by Riley Brennan, Special to The Simpsonian

Simpson College students are falling in love with Love Your Melon, a 2012 start-up selling hats to support the Simpson Campus Crew.

The hats, simple beanies with the Love Your Melon logo, run for about $35 each, with the promise to donate 50 percent of the proceeds to nonprofits supporting pediatric cancer research and to give a hat to a child with cancer.

The mission statement on its website reads, “Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as supporting nonprofit organizations who lead the fight against pediatric cancer.”

This all sounds wonderful at first. But digging deeper, I must question if supporting this business is truly philanthropic.

Love Your Melon uses volunteer Campus Crews to further their business. The crews host events to sell the hats, deliver hats to children and occasionally participate in “Adventures.”

The Adventures are essentially wishes granted to terminally ill children much like the Make-A-Wish program. The founders find supporting these Adventures important as they provide therapeutic treatment to children. The company website showcases two Adventures in five years.

This certainly seems to be a noble cause, similar to TOMs shoes (the “one for one” company donating a pair of shoes to a person in need for every shoe purchased) of earlier in the 2000s. I’m not sure, however, why the company is so popular.

Donating 50 percent of the earnings (“after taxes and fees” according to the website) to nonprofits sounds wonderful, especially if you truly care about wearing the super cute, fad-driven LYM label.

If you are truly a philanthropist however, it would be more beneficial to society to buy a similar $7 hat off Amazon and give $28 directly to a pediatric oncology research institution. Or you could buy five $7 hats and donate four of them to cover the heads of children going through chemotherapy.

The biggest part I take issue with is using volunteers to promote a for-profit company. The Simpson Crew gives countless hours to further the brand for no pay, and LYM profits from it. Nonprofits and children also benefit, but the volunteer hours would be more useful in direct fundraising or working for a hospital or other 501(c)(3) organization such as Make-A-Wish.

Are you really volunteering for the good of the world if a company is making millions ($21 million in revenue in 2016, according to CNBC — only donating $1.5 million in four years) off of your free labor?

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with Love Your Melon itself. The hats are cute. If you want an overpriced, “in” hat, you might as well be servicing the world in some way. That’s great.

My issue is how Love Your Melon and the Campus Crews show themselves as some great philanthropic group. The company is brilliant in its public relations, but they are no charity.

They have made their brand off the idea that customers and volunteers are supporting a giving organization, all while profiting from high prices.

If the company sold nice hats and also showed a deep commitment to corporate social responsibility, I would be all for it. Instead, however, Love Your Melon is growing its wealth by framing itself as these children’s saving grace.

If the founders were truly out to be philanthropic, they would have started a 501(c)(3) with the same mission. But they didn’t.

So should you buy a Love Your Melon hat? Sure, if you want one. Are you maximizing your wonderful contribution to society in doing so? Probably not.

The Simpson College Campus Crew leader was not available for comment at this time.

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4 Comments

  • Maddie Young

    Said like an outsider. You have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. If you would like some information about how Simpson’s LYM crew functions you can talk to a member of leadership to get some accurate information.

    [Reply]

  • Jeni H

    Coming from a LYM volunteer, we choose to give countless hours to this organization in lou of our lives being changed by the children we meet, the stories we hear, and the friends we make. Last year, on Superhero Day – it’s coming up again on April 27th so look out for it for your next article – LYM executed over 250 adventures for tiny fighters. Why are there only two documented on the site? It’s up to the parents what photos go where – not the company. Out of RESPECT to these families and fighters, we do not plaster everything we do with them for publicity. Buying an LYM product brings these kids closer to their childhood, makes them remember what its like to not be stuck in a hospital bed, and lets them know they are so so so loved. Please do not tell people to fray away from a company that donated over 2 million dollars last year to non-profits for the kiddos because you have a problem with how they get young people involved in something that forever changes them. And why did they become a for-profit? Manufacturing. Production. Demand. The facts are there, demand of LYM products shot up 500% in ONE year. How are they supposed to keep up with the demand without having the money to provide adequate production? Not to mention, all of these products are made in America and are fantastic quality. This article is the definition of misinformed journalism and completely disrespectful to the ~18000 volunteers that put in hours everyday to help the kiddos. I recommend The Simpsonian and their writers start fact checking before publishing.

    [Reply]

  • Jeni H

    Coming from a LYM volunteer, we choose to give countless hours to this organization in lou of our lives being changed by the children we meet, the stories we hear, and the friends we make. Last year, on Superhero Day – it’s coming up again on April 27th so look out for it for your next article – LYM executed over 250 adventures for tiny fighters. Why are there only two documented on the site? It’s up to the parents what photos go where – not the company. Out of RESPECT to these families and fighters, we do not plaster everything we do with them for publicity. Buying an LYM product brings these kids closer to their childhood, makes them remember what its like to not be stuck in a hospital bed, and lets them know they are so so so loved. Please do not tell people to fray away from a company that donated over 2 million dollars last year to non-profits for the kiddos because you have a problem with how they get young people involved in something that forever changes them. And why did they become a for-profit? Manufacturing. Production. Demand. The facts are there, demand of LYM products shot up 500% in ONE year. How are they supposed to keep up with the demand without having the money to provide adequate production? Not to mention, all of these products are made in America and are fantastic quality. This article is the definition of misinformed journalism and completely disrespectful to the ~18000 volunteers that put in hours everyday to help the kiddos. I recommend The Simpsonian and their writers start fact checking before publishing.

    [Reply]

    Maddie Young Reply:

    Couldn’t have said it better!

    [Reply]

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