Share your heart

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Thursday, red paper hearts will begin appearing on the walls and windows of the McDonald's restaurant in Cassville. The hearts will be purchased by area residents for $1 each. Proceeds from the Share a Heart Campaign will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks in Springfield.

If you have never purchased a heart through the Share a Heart Campaign, I would like to encourage you to do so this year. If you have supported the campaign in the past, please continue to do so this year. I myself have purchased the hearts in the past. I knew that the money was used for the Ronald McDonald House, but I didn't understand just how valuable each $1 donation could be to a family in need.

The Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks gives families a place to stay in Springfield while their child is in the hospital. It sounds simple, but not only does the house offer refuge for families that live miles from needed medical care, but the facility gives parents a hot meal each evening, a place to catch their breath between hospital visits, surgeries and procedures and an opportunity to network with other parents facing similar worries and trials. For only $7 per day, families are relieved of some of the burden they carry while dealing with the emotional strain associated with worrying about their children.

Last year, our newborn baby spent 10 weeks in the hospital in Springfield. Although we chose to stay with family in Springfield rather than utilize the Ronald McDonald House, it was nice to know that the facility was always available to us if needed. Spending so much time in the neonatal intensive care unit we had the opportunity to get to know other parents who required the services provided by the Ronald McDonald House. This facility was a comfort to each and every one of these parents.

In 2010, 23 Barry County families took advantage of the services offered by the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks. Families from across the area spent a total of 418 nights at the facility in order to be close to their children. Only two other southwest Missouri counties utilized the house more than Barry County residents last year. Since 1988, the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks has served 450 Barry County families, including 83 families from Cassville.

This is proof that Barry Countians never know when they might need the services provided by the Ronald McDonald House. You may not know anyone who has utilized the house or a parent who has benefited from the service could be your next door neighbor, co-worker or friend.

Over the next few weeks, as you drop by the local McDonald's to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner or just pick up a cup of coffee, consider leaving one extra dollar to support the Share a Heart Campaign. That one dollar could make a difference in the lives of several Barry County parents next year. Who knows, you might even be the one who benefits from the campaign in 2011.

Lindsay Reed