Beginning Friday, Barry County residents will have the opportunity to help raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks in Springfield, which provided 14 local families with 241 nights of lodging last year. McDonald's of Cassville will kick-off the Share a Heart Campaign locally on Jan. 27.
"My husband and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for three and a half weeks in the summer of 2011," said Sarah Tice, of Cassville. "Our youngest daughter was born five weeks early and was in the NICU at Cox South Hospital.
"It was so nice to have a place to stay that was so close to our precious baby," said Tice. "While we were there, we met many people in similar situations as ours. One couple we met lived right next to us, and we remain friends."
The McDonald's restaurant in Cassville will collect funds for the Share a Heart Campaign throughout the month of February. By adopting a red or pink paper heart for $1, $5 or $20, area residents can help support the campaign.
The adopted paper hearts, bearing the names of the adopting individuals, will be displayed at the local McDonald's restaurant until Feb. 28. Each donor will also receive an official entry form for a $1,000 Great Southern Bank MasterCard drawing, which will be held in March.
A total of 464 Barry County families, including 88 from Cassville, have been served by the Springfield Ronald McDonald House over the last 23 years.
"The staff at the Ronald McDonald House were so understanding and comforting during our time of need," said Tice. "They were always sure to ask about Payton and how she was doing. They were always willing to listen, which helped calm nerves and was certainly comforting."
The Ronald McDonald House, which is the cornerstone project of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks, is a home away from home for families of seriously ill and injured children who must travel far from home for medical care.
Other programs and services offered to families utilizing the Ronald McDonald House include: a family dinner program; laundry facilities; transportation to hospitals; and support from volunteers and staff.
A second Ozarks area Ronald McDonald House will be built on the sixth floor of Mercy Hospital Springfield, formerly St. John's, this year. The 8,000-square-foot facility will be located next to a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
The Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks is 100 percent supported by donations from the private sector. The Share A Heart Campaign raised over $80,000 for the facility last year. Annual operations cost over $550,000.
For more information, visit the Ronald McDonald House website at www.ronaldmcdonaldhouse.org.