Helping Families of Hospitalized Children

All month long, I am sharing giving ideas and causes as part of The 30-Day Giving Challenge. The following is a guest post from Jessie Leigh of Parenting Miracles.

When I went into labor less than 24 weeks into my pregnancy, I was lucky- my OB sent me to a large university hospital with an adjacent level III NICU. As a result, when my precious little girl was born almost four months early, she was right where she needed to be. I, on the other hand, was two hours from home. So was my husband. And, oh yes, so was our then ten-month old son.

We couldn’t very well make that commute every day… not only was the driving time prohibitive, my husband had to work and I was forbidden from driving following my surgery. We could have stayed in a hotel… for awhile. But the cost of that would have been exorbitant.

The Ronald McDonald House gave us a home away from home. We lived there for exactly 100 days. Families are asked to contribute- if they are able- $10 per night of their stay. Because our stay was so long, the manager insisted on halving that for our family. We had a place to live- and many meals provided- for three and a half months.

Our cost? Five hundred dollars. Amazing.

But they need help to make that happen! Fortunately, there are several very simple ways we can lend a hand. The Ronald McDonald House is always on my heart this time of year because my daughter arrived on Christmas Eve… preparing for the holidays inspires giving.

Here are five quick and easy ways to reach out to families with children in the hospital:

  1. Buy a Happy Meal. Yes, I know kids’ meals at fast food restaurants have come under fire and I’m not one to advocate making a steady diet of them. However, the simple fact is that many of us rely on these meals occasionally, whether as a treat or out of “necessity” when we’re on the go. By choosing to buy a Happy Meal, you’re also ensuring that a portion of the cost will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities. You can feel good about that part, if not what you’re feeding your kids.
  2. Toss your spare change in the jar. Almost all McDonald’s restaurants have a change jar inside and often one attached to the drive thru– this money is collected to support the Ronald McDonald houses.
  3. Save your “pop tabs”. Many schools run collection drives for these but, if yours does not, they can be dropped off at any Ronald McDonald House or children’s hospital. Some McDonald’s restaurants also collect them. Your cans can still be returned for a refund if you live in a state with a deposit. (I do). Think these don’t add up? Check out some these stats.
  4. Donate gently used toys. So many charities request that all donated toys be new, but many Ronald McDonald houses will gladly accept used toys as well. These are put in a playroom for the siblings of the hospitalized children… what a blessing for these little ones who are away from their homes! Too often, the “healthy” children can be forgotten. This is a way to touch their lives.
  5. Make a meal. Or clean a kitchen. Or organize a library. If you live within a convenient driving distance to a Ronald McDonald House, I encourage you to visit. They are amazing places and they will welcome you. While you’re there, lend a helping hand. During our stay, there were regularly volunteers helping to deep-clean the kitchens or tidy up the playroom. Groups from churches or businesses would often bless the residents with a hot, fresh dinner or breakfast. It is these special touches that make the House into a Home.

JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles.  She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles.

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About Alyssa Francis

A thirty-something wife and mother of four! Two daughters by birth, one son by marriage, and a sweet baby boy born in April of 2009. Oldest sister of four girls raised by a single mom. California native. Grew up in Hawaii. Somehow ended up in North Texas. Once a single mom. Former agnostic. A survivor of abuse and addiction. Forgiven by a great big God. Married to my best friend.


  1. Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I will have to check out saving pop tabs. We drink can drinks at my office so that would be an easy way to help.
    Denise@TogetherWeSave´s last blog post ..Printable Coupon- 35-1 Hamburger Helper

  2. @Denise@TogetherWeSave, If you do decide to save them, check with your closest RMH or children’s hospital… they should have little cardboard boxes shaped like houses that make them so easy to collect! If I remember correctly, each box holds about a pound of pop tabs. :)

  3. Melissa@Hello Depression, My Name is Whole Foods says:

    I appreciate your post because it hits close to home for my family. When my husband was born, he had some health issues that required surgery and my mother and father in law had to stay at the local Ronald McDonald house. Anytime we get a chance to support the Ronald McDonald house, we try to. What makes it so wonderful is that our donations go to our local house, right where my inlaws stayed!
    Melissa@Hello Depression, My Name is Whole Foods´s last blog post ..Confession Thursday

  4. Debt Free Daniel says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. Now I have a very good reason to eat at McDonalds. I am not only getting a full stomach but also with a full heart knowing each bite keeps the Ronald McDonalds house going.


  5. Our nephew Sebastian was born with spina bifida and my brother and his girlfriend stayed at the Ronald McDonald house for quite some time. It was such a blessing for them. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. @Melissa@Hello Depression, My Name is Whole Foods, What a beautiful story of giving coming full-circle! We have since moved to a new state and, thus, some of our donations now go to this location rather than the House where we stayed. But we still go back and visit anytime we’re in the Indy area. :)
    JessieLeigh´s last blog post ..Menu Plan- 11-21- I Dont Like Thanksgiving

  7. @Debt Free Daniel, I like it when I can feel good about choices like that. :)
    JessieLeigh´s last blog post ..Menu Plan- 11-21- I Dont Like Thanksgiving

  8. @Nina Nelson, It’s amazing all the families I was blessed to meet during our stay and all the incredible stories. I’m so glad your brother and his girlfriend were also helped by the Ronald McDonald House!
    JessieLeigh´s last blog post ..Menu Plan- 11-21- I Dont Like Thanksgiving


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