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Joy of the Journey

July 25, 2013

by Linda Beerman
"You have never lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."

This is a quote that Sue Zins from rural Fulda shared with me this past week as we chatted about Ronald McDonald Houses and the services they offer to so many families in need of a place to stay and care for their sick children around our country. These places become "their home away from home", and are especially welcoming for struggling families far away from home and those they love. They are warm, safe havens for the families needing a home environment while they are in need of staying close to a hospital for treatments or care.

Sue's grandson, Kade Clarke, and his family have had numerous experiences in this environment. Beginning in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and most recently when he was at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Hospital in Minnesota. In these loving homes, built purposefully with children in mind, you can find playrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, etc, a fun place to be that accommodates the whole family. While being uprooted from their familiar routines at home, this is a kid friendly place to be! The great thing about staying at a Ronald McDonald House is that you don't have to think about anything but your child. It is homey and comfortable, not a sterile, hospital environment.

Children receive welcome baskets, filled with bath articles, books, handmade pillows, and even blankets or quilts when they arrive. Everything to make you contented and relaxed is offered to those who choose to stay. Laundry facilities are free of charge, evening meals are provided for the family, snacks and drinks are available when needed or wanted, and shuttles are offered to take them to the hospital or even shopping. The houses ask for a donation, if you are financially able to give, but it is not demanded in order for you to take advantage of this wonderful service and provision.

We can be a part of this!! We can offer our help!! And it will only take a few moments of our time each week. Our part is POP TABS! To get started, simply pop the tabs from your cans - pop, soup, pet food, tennis balls- and collect them in a container. When you have it full, they can be dropped off at any McDonald's restaurant or at the Fulda Public Elementary School. They will be delivered to the right place and put into use to help fund this awesome gift of love to families needing these services.

It's a small gesture, but collecting your pop can tabs makes a big difference. Since 1987 this program has raised over one million dollars for the Ronald McDonald Houses. Maybe you remember seeing the large semi-truck that came to our local school a few years ago to collect the many ice cream pails full of tabs that had been collected. All of the students were rewarded with ice cream sundaes as a reward for their hard work. I was teaching then, and the kids and staff alike were amazed at what we had collected.

Here are some interesting facts about pop tabs:

1 pop tab = 1 inch of aluminum

12 pop tabs = 1 foot of aluminum

63, 360 pop tabs = 1 mile of aluminum

1,267 pop tabs = 1 pound of aluminum

1 million tabs = 730 pounds

*** 730 pounds of aluminum = 511 dollars!!!!!

There is also a house in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, located at 825 South Lake Avenue near Sanford Children's Hospital. If you are interested in seeing it, or volunteering your time, that is needed too. Some of the ways people have opportunity to give is by cooking for families, cleaning, sorting, doing seasonal yard and garden work, knitting hats or scarves, or baking homemade cookies. The products of your hearts and hands are always welcome! Many of these items can be made at home and dropped off as donations.

Further needs are people to be drivers for the House shuttle, or working as a receptionist / greeter at the front desk. Besides greeting the families and checking them in and out, you would help by answering the phone and doing some light office work. Whether you are part of a group, or want to help as an individual, you are welcome! On-site volunteers must be at least 14 years old and willing to commit to a regular schedule.

There is much more to this organization than I can shed light on in this little corner. I have only heard the benefits from both Sue Zins and also Penny Aanenson when their family also was blessed by the ministry and outreach of the Ronald McDonald House. One of the houses has this motto, " You be there for them, we'll be there for you." I am encouraging you today to start popping those tabs!! Please take a few moments to bless others in a real need. Thanks!!

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