Thank goodness I have friends with older girls. If not I wouldn’t have known about One Direction. And when I met Emma, a resident of the Ronald McDonald House Vancouver, I wouldn’t have been able to connect nearly as well. I always end up at RMH around the Christmas season. Last year the boys and I delivered new unwrapped toys and my kids refused to leave for 2 hours after having an extraordinary time playing with the other children.
This year, I was drawing on mugs to wrap for the house so that families would have something handcrafted, homey and festive for the holidays. And wow. Totally appropriate! These parents devour coffee. Of course they do. Many don’t sleep much between their childrens’ treatments, and with going to the hospital and giving attention and education to siblings also living in the house, there’s not much free time. I, too, am a coffee addict (with apparently no good excuse) and jumped at the chance to try the new McCafe take-home coffee at this event. Little did I know I’d be transformed by positive, loving children at the same time.
A new arrival from Powell River was among the most polite boys I have ever met. “Please”, “thank you”, smiles and an artistic talent that made me stare. He was wearing a Ronald McDonald House shirt and decided to draw the logo on his mug. (I drew a bunch of sunshines and happy stuff as it was the only way my heart wouldn’t break – especially when I made eye contact with the other moms there.) If I could have purchased his mug, I would have. He was so proud. With shining eyes and meticulous wrapping, he joined me by the Christmas tree for a photo. One little girl took her place snuggled under the tree. Yes – she was definitely a gift. Cute as a button I think the expression goes.
I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to teach a dance class. Cook a meal for the families. Lead the kids in a theatre sports game. The experience just solidified my affinity with the charity and I know I will be back shortly. There is so much good that we can all do and when I visited the house in London, Ontario I realized what families with severely ill children might need. You can always drop the following to your local RMH. (There are 317 houses in 31 countries throughout the world and in 2011 , there were 513 families served worldwide.).
– Tupperware to transport leftovers to the hospital so parents don’t have to leave the bedside of their children
– Toys for Christmas and the holidays – often parents cannot get away to shop – even for siblings staying at the houses.
– A hot meal for the house (you can book a date, buy groceries and cook)
– Volunteer to teach a yoga class, fitness training, do a craft or share one of your talents.
– Drop off some treats or baked goods for families to enjoy between hospital visits (label the ingredients).
– And then there’s coffee… but now that McDonald’s has launched it’s McCafe Premium Roast take home coffee, the need will be much less great.
I was so happy to learn that McDonald’s supplies so much (besides the beds and positive atmosphere for families in need) to the houses. Even suppliers and staff run frequent dinner-cooking nights. Pretty cool. And seriously? After meeting the happy kids and being with the parents? No better place on earth. Unless you’re not a visitor. As volunteers at the houses say “It’s the best place ever that you hope you never have to stay in.”