Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why I Love Ronald McDonald House Charities

Have you ever passed one of those change boxes at a local McDonald's collecting money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities? Maybe you threw in a quarter or two and wondered who this was going to help.

Well, let me introduce you to my family, people who have benefit from this charity.

In 2006, I became acquainted with the Ronald McDonald House charities in the St. Louis area. When my daughter was born, she needed to stay in the NICU. We had no idea when Jaycee was born that she had Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect. We were planning on the standard 1 or 2 day admission in the hospital. We had not planned on things going awry and spending 10 days in the NICU with Jaycee.

The first night Jaycee was in the hospital we stayed in a room the hospital provided. It had bunk beds and no private bathroom, neither of which are ideal for someone recovering from delivering a baby.

Jaycee and I in the NICU

Next, we moved into a nearby hotel that offered a discount. You might assume that the hotel discounts are deep ones and possibly providing the family with extra perks. No-not at all. A discount helps, but there is still quite an expense involved. After a few nights, we were stressed with the mounting costs we saw with this hotel bill on top of all the other stressors.

Then, the social worker offered us a spot at the Ronald McDonald House. We jumped on the opportunity. We checked out of the hotel and checked into the nearly free Ronald McDonald House. There was a small fee (and I mean small) for staying there, but meals and drinks there were all free. We did not take advantage of everything the house offered. We spent almost our entire day at the hospital. But, it was nice to have a hot shower, free food, and a private sleeping area. We were happy that the expenses of our lodging were eliminated while we were already dealing with so much as new parents. As part of our "payment" for staying there, we were asked to complete a few chores like taking out the garbage or emptying out the dishwasher. Things may be different now since our stay there was 10 years ago.

Jaycee in the hospital
Since Jaycee's birth, she has been in the hospital for surgeries and sicknesses several times. We have been offered to go back to the Ronald McDonald House a few of those times. We try to only use this option if we anticipate Jaycee's stay in the hospital being over a week. When we have been interested in a room, they are always full. Generally we add our names to list but never get the call in time. I am glad that the other families are benefiting from this charity even when we are not. I think the waiting list shows just how popular and needed this option is for families.

A few years ago, the hospital that Jaycee uses added a Ronald McDonald Family Room right inside the hospital. We have used this room multiple times since it opened. This room is staffed by volunteers who assist families. What I love most about this family room (which is actually several rooms) is the hot and clean showers. These showers are much cleaner than the other ones available to parents, so my neat freak personality loves this. If I have forgotten something in the rush to the hospital, they have soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes, etc, free of charge. Free snacks and drinks are available (sometimes fresh baked cookies). Did I tell you how much these cost in the cafeteria? There's also a laundry area. Pack for 2 days but staying for 5? This laundry room is your happy place. The soap and everything for laundry is all free. If your child is having a rough day, the volunteers will even finish up your wash for you and make sure it's dry. There's also a quiet room if you need to sleep or make a private phone call, a desk with a computer to update family members, and a spacious area to spend time with your other children who may be visiting. I love the Family Room! In just a short elevator ride, I can be in a place that is there to support me while I support my daughter.

The next time you see the change box at your local McDonald's consider dropping your leftover change in it. Think of me and many other families who have been blessed by this charity.

To learn more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities or to donate to this worthy organization check them out online.


  1. Those Ronald McDonald houses are so cool.

  2. Thank you for writing this! We too have benefited from RMH stays.


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