Yesterday we trekked over to the Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem, our home away from home for 6 months. When Lindsay was in the hospital, one of us stayed there with Michael while the other stayed at the hospital. We traded off hospital / Michael duty more or less every other day. It was taxing. I can't imagine having to commute an hour or more to do it.
It costs the RMH about $86 a day per family yet they only charges $5 a day to the family. And they'll waive that (or let you "pay it when you can") if you can't afford it. They provide food - cold meals, sandwiches, snacks. And volunteers will even cater in warm meals several nights a week. They have a counselor who comes to the hospital mostly to be your friend, but also to bring you magazines, talk about resources you might need. They help oncology families as well as NICU, general peds, etc families. Because RMH Winston-Salem was founded by an oncology family, they have a special provision in its charter that moves oncology families to the front of the waiting list.
A very very small portion of their budget (about 8%) comes from McDonald's. They raise the rest.
So, the easy easy idea. Get a box. A big box. And put it in the break room at your work (or church, or school, or gym, or all 4). Put up a sign that lists the needs of your local RMH. Send out a mass email. Give a deadline and send out a mass email. They need simple donations - toilet paper, paper towels, granola bars. You can also put a small box for financial donations next to the big box if you feel comfortable doing that.
You can also put a note or a sign referring to this website next to the box so people will know why you're motivated to do this.
Obviously, RMH Winston-Salem is today's featured organization, but there is also one in San Diego , Greenville SC , Atlanta , and one will be opening in Charlotte this year. For those of you near Charlotte, they are in the building stages and do not appear to be in need of non-financial donations. However, if you want to do the Big Box idea, I'm happy to collect your donations and take them to RMH Winston-Salem. Also, if you do not live in one of these cities, google the nearest children's hospital or big city or ask in the comments and I will do the work for you. RMH Winston Salem has a great page on their donations / needs link that you can print that shows specifically the types of tangible donations they need.
Keep up the hard work, and let me know what you're up to!