One of the Holiday events most personally meaningful this year was a gathering sponsored by Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in Tulsa. Current and former guests built gingerbread houses with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
RMHC helps families with ill or injured children stay together with home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens and laundry facilities near to the medical care they need at leading hospitals. Thus, the family, during medical trauma and treatment, may better comfort and support their children in crisis.
Local McDonald’s owner/operator Bob Wagner was on hand to help promote a new and easier way to donate to RMHC by “rounding up” purchases at the kiosk, counter or Drive Thru to the nearest whole dollar with that cashless coin going to the charity benefiting children.
For 45 years, RMHC has ensured families with sick children are able to be together and close to the care they need, made possible in large part through the change collected from generous customer donations in McDonald’s restaurants.
Donations made in the Tulsa area support the Tulsa facility and, in 2019, over $65,557.00 was raised through donations of change in the collection boxes at each restaurant.
McDonald’s gives a penny for every “Happy Meal” sold and a penny for every pound of fries cooked in Northeast Oklahoma to the RMHC in Tulsa. That’s $64,000.00 to RMHC from local fries in 2019 according to Christopher Stanley with McDonald’s.
However, today’s increasingly cashless society has impacted giving in McDonald’s restaurants. Jean Ann Hankins, Executive Director, RMHC of Tulsa said, “We have seen a thirty percent decline in donations at the restaurants with the decline of cash.”
This new round up option is a means to offer customers a way to help children in need by creating change without a single coin. Hankins said while this program is new in the Tulsa area, “those restaurants that (tested) the program have seen wonderful results.” The feature is also available on the McDonald’s smart phone applications or mobile pay.
Children present this bright chilly day were aha struck as Santa and Mrs. Claus helped them build gingerbread houses. Eager as they worked with adults in construction, they glowed with pride in their work – nibbling here and there on sweets and cookies provided.
Hankins said, “We see over 500 families a year. The average length of stay is nine days. Each family is guaranteed a room for two weeks, then they are given a 48-hour notice to find other accommodations, but most of the time, care is completed within the time frame and they can return to their homes.”
The Ronald McDonald House of Tulsa opened in 1991 and is located at 61st and South Hudson Ave. near the St. Francis Hospital complex and other medical clinics. The program began in Philadelphia in 1974 and currently has 130 houses in the United States and Canada and 400 internationally.