I am a long time fan of reality television but I am picky with what I watch. I am the first to admit that I am Team Kardashian all the way and I have more than enough reasons to support my philosophy that they are some of the smartest business women around. But this post is not all about them.
Long ago there was this little show on TLC called “Jon and Kate Plus 8”. This was way back before the father disgraced himself and left his family. Back then their show depicted a down to Earth couple raising a set of twins and sextuplets in Pennsylvania.
As this couple was raising two sets of multiples, it was interseting to watch them try to live normal lives with an extraordinary size family. Even as things changed I still followed their story and even met with Kate Gosselin during her book tour in NYC in 2009.
The reason I bring up their story is because I remember during one of their specials the couple discussing the early arrival of their sextuplets and how they had to await weeks (maybe even months) for the day they could bring their babies home. In a town where they did not live and without the means to stay in a hotel, they had the Ronald McDonald House to thank for their hospitality. The generosity of this foundation was never lost on the Gosselins who continued to educate their children about the cause and aid in giving back when they could. That always really stuck with me. It reminded me a great deal of the work done by St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a cause very near and dear to my heart (https://bit.ly/2KCsLiA).
Since I haven’t thought of those television moments in quite a while, it took a recent visit to the McDonald’s drive-thru to jog my memory. As I waited for my fries I saw the Ronald McDonald House logo and finally committed to learning more about it.
Before I go any further I should say that I have complicated feelings about McDonald’s. It has noting to do with their food but with their history. If you have ever see the incredible true story “The Founder” you know exactly what I mean. If you have not I suggest you go and watch this moving film staring Michael Keaton as soon as you are done reading this.
“The Founder” tells the story of how McDonald’s went from a local burger shop run by two brothers that invented many of the processes and systems fast food chains use today and how Ray Kroc franchised their brand. He is often thought of as the man behind this global business, instead of the McDonald brothers. How that came to be is too long to discuss here but it is surely a cautionary tale for all of us entrepreneurs.
Any who, with the uber success of the McDonald’s brand came the ability to go a lot of good.
McDonald’s was established in 1955 (by Ray Kroc that is) and in 1974 they created the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Is this just a coincidence that is the same state the Gosselin family would live in? Or was it fate?
Officially the RMHC provides: “ a comfortable place for families with sick children to rest, just steps away from a hospital.” This mission is still very central to this charity’s goals.
Each Ronald McDonald House location provides families with:
- Home-cooked meals;
- Private bedrooms;
- Playrooms for children;
- Special suites for children with suppressed immune systems;
- Accredited education programs;
- Recreational activities;
- Non-clinical support services; and
- Sibling support services.
The Houses are run by volunteers with donations from local McDonald’s but largely on funds donated by the average American citizen.
Throughout the world there are over three hundred and sixty-five chapters in sixty-four countries. Each House is run independently based on company guidelines.
The most a family is asked to pay is a daily donation of twenty-five dollars, but only if they are able to. Families can stay anywhere from one night to several months depending on what their child is being treated for.
Families with pediatric patients who are undergoing treatment, up to age eighteen, are eligible but they must contact the local chapter in order to find out the specific details about applying. If the child is being treated on an outpatient basis they may stay with their family at the RMH. The average cost varies from fifty to one hundred dollars a night to operate the facilities.
Aside from the Ronald McDonald Houses there are three other ways this brand gives back.
- Ronald McDonald Family Room - a special space in hospitals, usually near an intensive care unit, for the family of a patient to rest, prepare food, shower, do laundry, use the Internet, and find reading materials. Though the space available in every hospital is different.
- The Ronald McDonald Mobile Unit - provides medical care to children in areas where it is not readily available. Forty-foot trailers travel around providing a variety of services including but not limited to immunizations, dental care, vision, hearing, and lead screening, as well as social service resource referrals. Medical students are rotated so as to be able to provide these services.
- Grants - allows RMHC to work alongside other non-profit organizations that aid in the welfare of children. In the past twenty-five years more than one hundred million dollars has been donated for this purpose. From 2017 throughout 2020 the global side of RMHC will focus on the oral health of children up to age six as well as reducing child and maternal mortality rates in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.
If all of this giving is creating an urge for you to participate, don’t worry the likelihood is that you have. Every time we purchase a happy meal, McDonald’s donates a penny to support RMHC programs and their services.
If you so wish you can also drop change into the donation box (pictured at the very top of this post) at all McDonald’s counters and drive-thrus.
Once a year each and every McDonald’s takes part in a national fundraiser for this charity allowing their patrons to lending a great big helping hand.
As a result of such fundraising, there was over thirty-eight million dollars donated in 2016.
If there was ever a reason to satisfy your craving for a Big Mac, charity is it.
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