Thursday, September 24, 2015

Every Meal is a Happy Meal

We've had our fair share of hospital visits with our son, Brennen. He has had a number of surgeries that have required him to be admitted to the Janeway for several days and nights. We are fortunate that we live fairly close to the hospital, so Andrew and I can take turns running home to shower and change, and to catch some much-needed rest before facing another challenging day. For families who live outside of the city, that is not so easy. It must be a tremendous worry to have a sick child, and be faced with leaving your home, unplanned, for an undetermined amount of time.

Ronald McDonald House Newfoundland and Labrador offers a home-away-from-home for families, providing comfortable and affordable accommodations while their children receive care and treatment at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's. Their priority is to provide a secure and stable environment for families during what can be a very stressful time.

Our local Ronald McDonald House provides the simple things that put some joy and normalcy back into families lives, like sitting down for a home-cooked meal together, and waking up together, under one roof, ready to face the tough day ahead. Some families stay for just a short time, others for weeks, months, and sadly, some stay for a year or more. Ronald McDonald House Newfoundland and Labrador truly offers a place where families are taken care of so that they, in turn, are better able to care for their children.

Every day for the past 10 years, Canadians have supported Ronald McDonald Houses across the country through the McDonald's Happy Meal donation program - 10 cents of every Happy Meal purchase goes directly to RMHC. The program has helped support 20,000 families every year across the country.

On September 17th, Ronald McDonald House families had the opportunity to thank Canadians for their support in a very special way! All customers in McDonald's restaurants across the country received their order in a Happy Meal Box that included a personal Thank You card from a family that has stayed at a Ronald McDonald House. This was the first time that Ronald McDonald House families have been able to express their gratitude to Canadians for their support through the Happy Meal program.

Click this video to watch the magic happen!

Over 75 families from Ronald McDonald Houses across the country created personal Thank You cards, including Selina and Sheldon Carroll. They have been staying at Ronald McDonald House NL since March, when their son, Michael was born prematurely. (That's Michael's little footprint on the blue heart!) The Carroll's are from Labrador City.

Michael Myles Joseph Carroll was born on March 20, 2015 at 8:41 am, weighing 2 pounds 2 ounces.

His birth was very early, and with that came a whole slew of premature complications. Michael was also born with several surgical complications which cannot be repaired until he grows bigger and stronger. His Mom, Selina says, "Throughout it all, our son has been such a fighter. He has been through more in his short life than Sheldon and I have been through in our whole lives. He is our little miracle, our hero and our true inspiration. Words cannot describe how thankful we are for the love and support that our families and friends have shown to us throughout this very difficult time. We can't wait for the day that Michael is strong enough to come home."

Selina says that they are extremely thankful to Ronald McDonald House. Inside their Thank You card, she wrote:

"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for providing us a second home while our premature son is being cared for in the Janeway. Through all our ups and downs on Michael's journey, the staff and volunteers here at the Ronald McDonald House have been so supportive and loving. From the home cooked meals, happy faces and late night chats, our stay has been second to none. So very grateful for everything and everyone. We have met friends here that we will have for life, and that is a great gift."

I was thrilled to have been invited to attend this very touching event. It was a pleasure to meet this sweet family, and to learn about their precious baby boy. It was especially moving to see the expression on people's faces when they unexpectedly received a Thank You card with their meal.

"Thank You."

There is so much packed into those two little words. Gratitude is a wonderful thing, and I firmly believe that it is just as important to show it as it is to receive it. Appreciating the beauty in the big and small things, in the people around you, in the good efforts and good intentions of others, and recognizing what makes you truly thankful and happy about right now can have a powerful impact on your state of mind. When faced with a challenging situation, it can be comforting to acknowledge the blessings, and to give back and show gratitude to others for their acts of kindness towards us.

Little moments are to be celebrated, and on this day, we celebrated all of the people who purchased meals at McDonald's restaurants, who in turn helped people like the Carrolls in a big way.

It was a very moving experience, and one that will stay with me, as I try to instill a strong sense of gratitude within my own family.
We are happiest when we are most grateful.

To see all of the cards and for more details on the Happy Meal program, please visit

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