Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ronald McDonald House and Me

This post is not sponsored by anyone but my own experience.

Last week, we served dinner to 100 people at the Ronald McDonald House that served us so many meals while Baby M was in the hospital. It was awesome (and weird) to be on the other side of the counter. Dinner at our Ronald McDonald House is not provided by the hospital or the foundation -- it is provided by families and organizations that volunteer to do so, taking on all costs associated with it.

I was a little daunted by this project - I've never organized anything like this, and serving 100 people could get pretty expensive. I picked a couple of soup recipes that are easy to stretch and called for volunteers. Everyone brought a couple batches of something, which cut the cooking down so that no one was super burdened. We got salad, rolls, crackers, chili fixings, dessert and beverages thanks to Target - several family members are employed there, and one of them asked her store manager if there was money for this type of sponsorship, and there was! They gave us $250 which covered the cost of everything I wanted to get.

There were also some people who wanted to help but couldn't come out the night we were scheduled to serve, so they held food drives at their businesses. We left 21 bags of groceries and personal care items at the House for the pantry. (Dinner is served most evenings, but the pantry is open during the day for families to make meals as they are able to get away from their child's bedside.)

All in all, this experience added maybe $50 to my monthly grocery budget, and the time it took to make a few extra pots of soup and organize our family and friends (mostly done by email, and then picking up the food drive stuff). And it was totally worth it. Every night that I was served dinner, I vowed to pay it forward, and it feels really good to have done that. I plan to do this twice a year, for as long as I can gather up enough volunteers to help.

If you've got extra time or money or non-perishable food on your hands, I heartily recommend the Ronald McDonald House. Despite the name, McDonald's restaurants do not fund the charity, although the coin collections at the counters and pick-up windows do get forwarded on (unless they are pocketed by the manager of the restaurant, like the McDonald's I worked at in college, grrrr). This charity is meeting a need that no one considers until they desperately need it, and I am so, so thankful that they exist.

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