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McDonalds and Charity Mixing Business With a Bigger Picture

By KJ Mullins     Jun 8, 2007 in Business
McDonald's made a wise move when it started it's Ronald McDonald houses. By donating a mere ten cents per Happy Meal the company has been able to build the homes that house families of severely ill children who are in children's hospitals.
The charity begin in 1974 with one house in Philadelphia. Today that number has grown to 245 Ronald McDonald Houses. The houses that give a home to families when they are in a medical crisis have been a godsend for many. The cost of rooms at motels and hotels close to a Children's Hospital can quickly spiral out of control. The fee for a room at a Ronald McDonald house is generally $5 to $20 per day, but if a family can't afford that it is free.
There are houses in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
With 6,000 bedrooms the worldwide the homes are almost always filled to the brim.
Grace is one of the children that has benefited from the Ronald McDonald house. She was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome which has required three open heart surgeries in the first three years of her life. The third operation left her with a stroke that caused paralysis in the left side of her body.
Her family lived in the Ronald McDonald house while she was recovering.
"I am so appreciative of everyone who contributes to the Ronald McDonald House, they are truly blessing families," mother Angie says. "From the food in the pantry to the home-cooked meals every evening, we never had to worry about what we would eat or if we would have enough money (for groceries)."
The Family Rooms that are set inside the children's hospitals provide a calm place during the storm. Typically they are within steps of neonatal or pediatric intensive care units.
The rooms are there for families to get away from the tension for a brief time. There are showers, laundry machines and a kitchen. A simple bit of normalcy when it is most needed.
Started in 1992 there are now 100 Family Rooms spread throughout Australia, Guatemala, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States.
In 2001 little Lina was diagnosed with cancer of the nervous system. Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. is one of the Children's Hospitals world wide that houses a Family Room. Lina's mother Natalie and her husband could enter the sanctuary to have a short break when it was needed.
"The room was like a little piece of home - a cheerful environment with couches, a TV, games for the children, a refrigerator, a microwave and a coffee maker," she says. "More importantly, volunteers would chat about normal things like the weather. The warmth of the place and the kindness of the people got my husband and me through our ordeal."
Today Lina is cancer free and mom Natalie volunteers helping other families weather the storm at Wolfson.
Today there is also the the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program. A mobile unit goes to the kids bringing medical, dental and health education services directly to urban and rural settings around the world. There are currently 29 Care Mobile programs operating in Argentina, Poland and the United States with additional programs launching in El Salvador and Odessa, TX, before the end of 2006.
Important Facts
All services are provided in a 40-foot, 26,000 pound, state-of-the-art vehicles built specifically for delivering pediatric healthcare services.
Each vehicle includes two patient examination rooms, a laboratory, reception and medical records areas.
Depending on specific community needs, services may include:
Primary care
Well-child visits
Developmental screening
Diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease
Preventive, diagnostic and restorative dental care
Hygiene and health education
Asthma prevention and treatment
Pulmonary function testing
School and sports physicals
Prenatal care for pregnant teens
Injury prevention education
Nutrition counseling
Mental health services and other pediatric specialty services, such as cardiology and ENT
Blood collection
Even working full time Brandon's mother could not afford dental care. When he was 8 the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile came to Denver.
"Brandon was all smiles," says his mom, Wendy. "There was just one disappointment. When they told him to come back in six months, he said, "Can't I go again next week?"
We may not like taking the kids to MickyD's and buying them those Happy Meals, it seems just to easy and the fast food biz has gotten a bad rap lately. So next time you go for the easy way out you can pat yourself on the back. You just helped sick kids have it a bit easier.
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