Thursday, November 18, 2004

Last night the family and I served dinner to the families at the Ronald McDonald House. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, the Ronald McDonald House is a place for families to stay while their children are undergoing treatments for life threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart surgery, critical burns and birth defects.

The Ronald McDonald House began in 1974 when a player for the Philadelphia Eagles team had taken his daughter for treatment for leukemia. Sleeping in cars and hotels to get by, he realized the need for such a place for families. He approached Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, who released the rights to use to likeness and name of Ronald McDonald and the construction began on the now over 200 Ronald McDonald houses throughout the country. Many local contractors donate their services and furniture, many of which are those who have benefited from services from Ronald McDonald house.

The house we visited in Salt Lake houses 28 families, completed with a spacious kitchen and dining room, laundry room, game rooms with satellite television and Xbox, a nursing room and family rooms.

Families can stay at the house for a month, and only pay $10 a day. They don’t pay for anything, including food, laundry soap – everything is provided. They can literally come in with the clothes on their back and the Ronald McDonald house will take care of their needs. They rely on donations and routine sponsorships – surprisingly NOT from McDonalds! Although Ronald McDonald is their “Spokesperson” McDonald’s does not sponsor the houses. Each franchise location has the option to sell “hands” or put out as collection jar – but they don’t have to! So – when you find a McDonald’s that does – frequent it. And if you find a McDonald’s that doesn’t, ask for the Manager and ask WHY!

We served chili, homemade soup, cornbread, salad, rolls, and lots of desserts. It’s humbling to realize these families have come from more than 50 miles away to heal their children, facing life or death decisions, and the only solace they may have is a warm meal and a place to sleep to regain their strength to give to their child. It’s very thought provoking.

I encourage you to donate ONE DAY of your time to the Ronald McDonald house at least once a year. They can always use a group of people to plan dinner (it can be very simple). Drop off a bag of food (they have a community kitchen that feeds all no matter what time they eventually wander in to shower and eat). Gather some toiletries for those people who forgot theirs at home. EVERYTHING goes to use at the house.

It’s humbling and makes you grateful for all the blessings you’ve been given in your life.


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