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Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida seeks community’s support

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jan 13, 2021


Like many nonprofit organizations, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida also saw a tremendous decline in revenue as many of its signature events were either cancelled or postponed until the new year.

“Like many nonprofit organizations, we have had to cancel multiple fundraising events in 2020. As a result, we are facing an unexpected loss of nearly $200,000 in sponsorships and donations,” Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida Executive Director Laura Ragain said in a prepared statement.

One of those cancelled events was the golf tournament, which has been held for the past 26 years during the month of December. Fortunately the first event of 2020, and the most profitable, the Storybook Ball, was held in February.

Ragain said with that said there have been some third-party events held on the organization’s behalf, as well as individuals supplying items from its wishlist.

“We are always so grateful for our generous community. We are very fortunate to have the support of the Southwest Florida community,” she said.

The Junior League of Fort Myers Sustaining members was among the groups that held an event, a virtual kitchen shower for the Ronald McDonald House. Ragain said they have duplicates of everything one could imagine, so families, when returning to the house, can work on opposite sides of the kitchen to prepare their meal to eat. Items ranged from mixers, to cookie sheets, mixing bowls and knives.

It was “everything you can possibly imagine. We have duplicates of everything, so when families do come back they can keep social distance in the kitchen,” Ragain said.

The Ronald McDonald House suspended its house program in mid-April due to COVID-19, which was a global directive.

“We have not had families in the house since mid-April,” she said.

The Ronald McDonald House was just recently approved to enter into phase one with the hopes of welcoming families back into the house after the New Year at a 25 percent occupancy.

The Ronald McDonald House is seeking the community’s help in filling the loss in revenue this year. Monetary donations are very much appreciated, as are restaurant gift cards, or donating items to the house from its wishlist, which can be found at www.rmhcswfl.org.

“If you can contribute — a gift of any amount will be appreciated. Your donation today will help the families we serve every day, giving them the greatest gift: being together when it matters the most,” she said in a prepared statement.

When they prepare to reinstate the house programs, she said the meal program will change, as meals will be delivered directly to the family’s room.

“There will be no communal dining yet, initially until all this subsides,” Ragain said.

One good thing is even through the pandemic, the Ronald McDonald House expansion project was deemed essential and the work continued. The expansion, which doubled the space, increasing the bedrooms from six to 12, had a scheduled grand reveal on Dec. 3, which had to be cancelled.

Ragain said with 2021 being the 25th anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House opening in Southwest Florida, the hope is to have an open house to welcome people back to the family resource.

Another program that came to a stop due to COVID-19 was the Ronald McDonald Family Room, a special spot in the Golisano Children’s Hospital that offers families a bit of respite. Families have the opportunity to grab bagged lunches, coffee, or rest for a few minutes before returning to their child’s bedside.

She said when the hospital welcomes volunteers back, the hope is the room will reopen.

A program that was repurposed during COVID-19 was the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, a state-of-the-art vehicle that delivers free medical and dental care to underserved children in their neighborhoods. Ragain said it was repurposed at the start of the pandemic when it became a vehicle used for immunizations for newborns because new mothers did not feel comfortable going into the doctor’s office.

For more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, visit https://www.rmhcswfl.org/ or call 239-437-0202.