As some of you may have read, my youngest daughter Grace had major surgery last Friday at DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. The surgery was a huge success, and her body is now doing things that it’s never been able to do before – like giving me a two handed hug for the first time…ever. It was a stressful week with emotional ups and downs, but this child is a fighter, and fight she did.
Across the street from the hospital was a Ronald McDonald House. While I didn’t need to stay there, as the hospital allowed me to stay in the room with her all week, it was nice to know that a facility was available for family members. However, part of the Ronald McDonald House was inside the hospital, in the form of a Family Resource Center directly across the hall from Grace’s unit. This housed private rooms where a parent could grab a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, private showers, a kitchen area with coffee, tea and snacks available 24 hours a day, as well as several computers with internet access and a resource library. There was a family room style set up with TV’s, video games, and laundry facilities complete with laundry detergent and other supplies, all free of charge.
The goal of this particular blog entry is to encourage you to consider the Ronald McDonald House if you are looking for a place to make charitable donations. If you have a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop needing a service project, a classroom looking to make a difference, or anything along those lines, I’d like to give you some suggestions that are easy, but make a world of difference.
Upon entering the Resource Center to grab yet another cup of coffee on Valentine’s Day, I noticed the counters were lined with beautifully decorated large white lunch bags. Handwritten on the back was “Lovingly prepared for you by the second grade class at St. Joseph’s School.” Unbelievably sweet – each bag was labeled “Meal to Go” and filled with a bottle of water, a container of Easy Mac, an applesauce, and a pudding cup. Perfect for the middle of the night when my daughter was finally asleep, and I needed simple comfort food. 🙂 This would be a great project for kids.
Another idea would be a collection of bath essentials. Unfortunately the towels provided were small, thin hospital towels. I was lucky in that I knew I’d be staying and packed my own big, fluffy towel. But I felt bad for the 6’3″, 250 lb dad who looked at the small square of cloth and asked for several more (which he was given with a laugh!) Some ideas for a service project would be fluffy towels, travel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, razors and deodorant. Toothpaste and toothbrushes would be useful too. For those of us who know our children will be staying overnight, it’s not a huge issue. But for kids that come through the emergency room and stay for several days on the floor, parents are often times caught off guard. Having something as simple as shampoo and conditioner would go far in helping a parent by giving them some of the basic comforts of home.
Slipper socks! Always a great idea for kids and parents. 🙂 Not to mention video games, new or used. If you’re like me, your child has gone through several dozen games, and once finished the thrill is gone. Donate them! Siblings can play them in the resource room, or patients can play them in their rooms.
And lastly, hug a nurse, doctor or therapist. These folks have a huge responsibility with our kids when they’re admitted. I’ve seen therapists cry at a child’s progress, nurses stay after their shift to rock a child whose parents weren’t there, and doctors take off the white coat and put on the friend sweater to sit and take the time to comfort a parent. I’m humbled at the generosity of spirit these professionals have, and grateful that my daughter was a recipient of such gifts.
Be well, hug your kids, and be creative in ways to teach them to help others. To those that receive your gifts, it means more than you will ever know. 🙂
Karen Cluxton lives in Hatfield, PA, and has three teenagers – Halle 16, Owen 14, and Grace 13. Between shuttling kids to soccer, baseball and physical therapy, she trains in Mixed Martial Arts.