The famous Ronald McDonald at the entrance.
One of the guest rooms.
A local bakery donated cupcakes for dessert.
A local Hallmark puts up the Christmas village each year.
The dinner counter.
The amazing kitchen!
The dining area.
One of the women I went to Brazil with asked me to come with her yesterday to cook dinner for the families staying at the Ronald McDonald house. I jumped at the chance. The Cincinnati location is just amazing. I was just shocked and how big and fantastic this place is. There are 78 rooms, with huge kitchen facilities, laundry, a library, computers, and play areas for the children. The rooms are like hotel rooms with two tempurpedic beds. There are 25 transplant rooms which are a little more like apartments due to the fact that the children have to stay at a minimum of 100 days after their transplant surgery. They have a white board in the front listing where each family is from. There were people currently there from Russia, Romania, Puerto Rico and many states across the country.
The volunteering that occurs at this location is just heartwarming. There are only 6 employees with approximately 400 volunteers who run the place. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are made by volunteers every single day! In fact, at the current time, new people can't even sign up because all the slots are full.
The group that I went with has been going for over 6 months so they really know their way around this kitchen (actually 6 kitchens in one large kitchen). Last night was casserole night, so everyone brought the ingredients for their meal and assembled and baked them at the house. Once dinner was ready, it all went out on a big warmed counter, and an announcement is made overhead that dinner is being served. Everyone comes in and gets in line to eat. I have to say that the atmosphere was happier than I expected, although most people really just kept to themselves. I am sure that this is a tough time of year for these people and it's hard to keep upbeat. One woman made up a plate and put it away for her husband who was at the hospital. They were doing shifts and she wasn't sure when he would get the chance to eat. In the past, the group has done soup night, baked potato bar, english muffin sandwiches and others.
We were all wondering what the House would be doing for Christmas. It's actually pretty amazing. In the basement, there's a room filled with toys that have been donated. Each parent can go down and pick out what they want to give their children. They can choose to have them wrapped (they are so busy some just don't have the time) or can do it themselves. On Christmas Eve, Santa will come visit the children. He will call up each family and visit with them and then give them their bag of wrapped presents.
I'm really happy that I found a way to give back this season. The group goes monthly and I am invited to come along as my schedule allows. I urge you all to check your local Ronald McDonald House (or other charity) and check to see if they need help. It really is an amazing program.