Students Find Hope in Charitable Work

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Tie to Cancer Drives Students to Give Back

UMD student Hailey Lundquist  
Hailey Lundquist in her Love Your Melon hat  

UMD student lives are often occupied with full-time class loads, part-time jobs, sports, and simply having fun. In the midst of their hectic schedules, many students find time to volunteer with charitable groups, some of which are dedicated to helping women, men, and children who are battling cancer.

Love Your Melon

“Life is short. When dealing with losing someone to cancer, you have to be positive about it,” Hailey Lundquist said. “You can’t waste your time being sad, get out there and build connections with people.”

Lundquist, 20, is tied to cancer personally. “Last year when I was a freshman, my mom passed away from cancer,” she said. “She was a personal trainer, really healthy, and only 40-years-old. The cancer came and four months later she passed away.”

Since her mother passed, Lundquist has had an insatiable drive to be involved with a number of cancer organizations on campus. She is involved with Love your Melon, Colleges against Cancer, and Be the Match.

“I do it in memory of my mom, I was really close to her. Everyone goes through that stage of hating their parents and I regret that so much with her,” she said. “Who could’ve known I would be 18 when she passed away? Two years before that I was getting into fights with her. Always be kind to your parents, that’s what I’ve learned.”

“Sometimes people let bad things negatively affect them,” she explained. “I chose to put all my time and energy into something that would positively affect other people.”

Lundquist spoke about her involvement with Love Your Melon. “Everyone has a certain tie to cancer and Love your Melon is really easy to get involved with,” she said. “You buy a hat and another is donated to a child with cancer. What doesn’t make you want to be a part of that?”

November 17, 2014, was the first week Lundquist and her colleagues started selling hats. Their goal was to sell 100 hats by Christmas. “The next week we had already sold 140 hats,” she said. “Duluth ranks sixth out of 161 schools who are involved with Love your Melon.”

Lundquist hasn't decided on a major, yet she has set her sights on what the future could offer. “Opening a non-profit is my ultimate goal,” she said. “I want to make it unique -- I know I will help people battling cancer.”

Be the Match

“A lot of cancers are completely curable by bone marrow transplants. That’s why we try to drive in the importance that you can save a life. Think about the difference you can make in someone’s life,” ShuYing Ng said.

Fei Tang and ShuYing Ng, who goes by Sharon, are involved with Be the Match, a registry that saves the lives of cancer patients who need bone marrow transplants. Fei and Sharon are a part of UMD’s Multicultural Pharmacy Student Organization (MPSO) and have been doing bone marrow drives since 2010.

bethematch - charity  
Fei Tang and ShuYing Ng getting ready for the drive  

MPSO recently teamed with Be the Match to organize drives. Some students are unaware of what it means to register in these drives.

“When some people hear bone marrow drive, they think they are donating on the day of the drive,” Fei said. “But we are only doing cheek swabs.”

After the cheek swab, the person is registered with Be the Match. That doesn’t mean they are signing a contract to donate their bone marrow. There are a number of steps taken afterward to make sure an individual is eligible to donate.

A common fear is the pain that students associate with donating. “We try to clarify what student's concerns are. They think it’s going to be a painful process and we try to dispel that myth,” Sharon said. “There are two different processes of donating bone marrow. One is collecting the stem cells through your blood and the other way would be directly extracting the bone marrow from the bone itself.”

“There are nineteen students who have been matched and successfully donated at UMD,” Sharon said. “We have been able to save nineteen lives.”

Tea for Strength

“Making a difference for someone else is the reason we do sustainable business, to help each other out and make a difference. We want to put more out than what we receive so we can help as much as we can,” Whitney Milani explained.

Students from Raymond Jones’s Entrepreneurship class were given a task to create and sell a product for profit. Students were able to choose where profits would go. Whitney Milani and Paige Lietzau's group decided to give back to a local charity.

Their team gave life to the product, "Tea for Strength." They sell various flavors of loose leaf tea. Lietzau said, "Tea has so many health benefits, we enjoy it and regularly visit local tea shops." “We picked tea because it’s healthier than coffee,” Milani said.“Duluth is known for locally grown and organic products so we chose to follow that path too.”

Tea for Strength’s tea comes from local distributor, Anahata, who sells tea products to Duluth Grille and the Snooty Fox Tea Shop. Tea for Strength exceeded Milani and Lietzau’s expectations. Recently their tea completely sold out.

All of the profits went to Circle of Hope, a non-profit in Duluth. “Circle of Hope helps women battling breast cancer,” Milani said. “They pay bills or help feed their children because medical costs can be so high.” Lietzau added, “We chose this charity because, as women, we feel strongly about aiding women who are battling cancer right now.”

Written by Mackenzie Timm. April, 2015.

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