Home away from Home – Ronald McDonald House Charities
If you have never heard of the Ronald McDonald House Charities then you are in for a treat. Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) was started in 1974 through an unlikely partnership between an NFL Team, a children’s hospital and a restaurant chain. Since then, it has grown to be an international charity.
Because I am a brand ambassador for McDonald’s I get to talk to you about cool things like the Ronald McDonald House. While I am being compensated for this post, my love of the Ronald McDonald House is all my own. All opinions are also my own :)
History of the Ronald McDonald House Charities
When Philadelphia Eagles Fred Hill’s daughter, Kim Hill, was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3, her parents spent many nights at the hospital sleeping in waiting rooms and eating from vending machines. They saw other parents doing the same. Some families traveled for hours to be with their children. Most of these families stayed at the hospital in waiting rooms or on hospital benches as it was unrealistic, and costly, to travel back and forth on a daily basis.
I can relate to these families. When Aloshua was in the hospital waiting to come home on his vent, I was unable to stay with him. The rooms were not set up for parents to stay. Instead, I spent countless hours on a chair beside his bed and relied on vending machines for most of my meals. Not only was it stressful, but it was bad for my health; emotional and physical.
Hill recognized the need for change and along with his teammates, came together and raised funds to help families in this situation. With the support of the team’s general manager and an idea of a temporary housing unit for families of hospitalized children, formed by Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a plan was set in motion.
Philadelphia McDonald’s owners/operators donated the proceeds from the sell of shamrock shakes to the cause. Within no time, the first Ronald McDonald House was built allowing families to stay close to their children while receiving treatment at local hospitals. Since then, numerous other houses have been built with the same idea in mind. There are currently over 300 houses spread out over 30 countries.
Ronald McDonald House Charities comes to Arkansas
In 1980, Little Rock opened an 8 room house to help serve families. Since then it has grown to 28 rooms and serves over 1,000 families each year.
What you may not know about RMHC is that they are a non profit organization, independent from the hospitals they serve. This means that they do not receive funds from the hospital. Instead, they rely on donations. Being McDonald’s charity of choice, they receive a large portion of their funds from there, however even with large contributions from McDonald’s, they are not fully funded. RMHC relies on the community’s support, donations, and in-kind contributions to keep going.
Want to know how you can help?
Are you curious how you can help? I recommend first calling your local RMHC and asking what they are most in need of. Little Rock’s RMHC just posted a wish list asking for dryer sheets and disinfectant wipes. While yours may not need the same thing, you can get a good idea of what they do need by asking. Here are some other ways you can help:
Monetary contributions – These funds can be used to purchase everything from food to toiletries.
Supper Club – Volunteer time to cook a meal for the families at the house.
Donating – Hygiene products (soaps, shampoos, deodorants, feminine hygiene, etc)
Collecting – RMHC collects soda pop tabs which are then recycled for money.
Toys – Some families stay in the house for months at a time, having new toys lifts their spirits.
Food – By participating in the supper club you can help provide a meal, but you can also donate food and snacks for the families to have in between meals. RMHC does not provide every meal and some families do not have the funds to “eat out” constantly.
Because I lived so close to the hospital at the time Aloshua was waiting for his home vent, I was unable to stay at the Ronald McDonald house, but I saw first hand how much the house helped other families around me. Every year our local house has multiple events for the families staying in the house. I am able to attend some and see how RMHC is helping my community and families in it stay together through some of the hardest times in their life.
If you have a chance, see how you can help support the Ronald McDonald House Charities.