One of the most common questions I get from people curious about Thankful Thursday is, “how much of a difference can you make in a single day?” The truth is not much. Big problems require big investments of time, effort, and money extended over months, years, or even decades.
The point of Thankful Thursday is not to change the world in a single day. The point is to see the world through the eyes of the people who go to work every day relieving the suffering of those in need. More than anything else, Thankful Thursdays have taught me that the true measure of a charitable organization isn’t the size of its mission, but the effort it makes to understand the people its helping. Perhaps this is why yesterday’s Thankful Thursday was my favorite to date.
We spent the day preparing food for the families of hospitalized children at The Ronald McDonald House. If it’s not immediately clear to you (as it was not to me), why The Ronald McDonald House is so important to so many people, consider the struggle of a family who has a sick or injured child who must spend days, weeks, or even months in treatment at a children’s hospital. Securing the best medical care and providing for the comfort of your child becomes your singular priority. You soon find yourself neglecting everything else in your life–your job, your health, your happiness, even your basic hygiene and the needs of your other children. Worse yet, in the case of a world class children’s hospital, like Rady’s Children’s Hospital, many of the families who seek treatment there have traveled great distances to give their children access to the best medical care. They are far from all the comforts of home, and with all of their money allocated towards the medical care of their child, unable to simulate those comforts at a decent hotel. Before long, these families are sleep deprived, emotionally spent, and stressed to their breaking points.
Now, imagine a place just steps away from your child’s hospital room that offers a comfortable place to sleep, warm showers, warm food, laundry service, a fitness center, a computer lab, and on-site K-12 education for your other children. They will let you stay and use their services for as long as you need—days, weeks, even months. In return, they ask for nothing. This is the Ronald McDonald House–a secret sanctuary for the entire support structure of the children in the hospital across the street.
What may seem obvious is that McDonald’s is the largest corporate donor to the organization that bares the name of its corporate mascot. What is not so obvious is that McDonalds’ substantial contributions only account for 10% of The Ronald McDonald House’s operating expenses. The other 90% must come from other organizations, from other individuals…from us.
When I speak with people who are considering charitable contributions, the primary concern is always the same–how can I ensure my money gets to the people who need it and not some organizational bureaucrat lining their own pockets? To those people, I say look no further than The Ronald McDonald House. This is an organization that is almost 100% volunteer-operated, always at 100% capacity, and always has its heart in the right place.
Categorized in: Runway Blog