Christmas is known as a day that is central to family togetherness. In homes across the globe, families gather against the backdrop of laughter, food, and celebration – some travelling many miles for that blessing of being together. For Ronald McDonald House families, Christmas is often a reminder of just how upside down their lives have turned. Children’s illness and accidents don’t take the holidays off, and treatments, surgeries, and struggles continue with no break for holiday traditions.
This Christmas, several families gave of their own family time to remind families spending Christmas in hospital that they are not alone. Christmas morning saw volunteers from around the globe – an extended family from Trinidad, and some of the missionaries of the Mormon church – as well as some of our staff families and regular volunteers coming together to serve. They started as strangers, and left as friends, joined by the privilege of seeing firsthand the true meaning of Christmas in action.
The impact was measureable and immediate: voices raised together in a carol sing in our kitchen as hands prepared 200 Fuel for Families lunches to be delivered to hospital families on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Save-On-Foods Spruce Grove offered a deep discount on the groceries needed for the two days of lunch. The Strathcona Save-On-Foods general manager supplied his personal cell phone number to be on standby in case we ran out of food. Cobbs Bread Callingwood donated bread for all 200 sandwiches and rolls for Christmas dinner.
The Child Life and Social Work teams at the Stollery Children’s Hospital ensured that families in hospital were aware that we were coming with lunches for all who needed, as our organizations worked together to support those who needed it most.
On December 25th and 26th, RMHCNA had 40 volunteers provide 158 hours of service to families at the House and in hospital. The power of families helping families during the holiday season was felt by all, and the connections, though brief in time, are deep in impact.