There are scores of charities and non-profit groups across the United States, but only a handful are cemented in the minds of the general public: the American Red Cross, the March of Dimes, the Salvation Army… Among that group is Ronald McDonald House Charities, and while it may owe some of its popularity to those iconic yellow arches and its resident clown, its mission of healing sick children resonates in the heart of just about everyone.
That’s why Atlantic Logistics chose the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville as the February beneficiary of the company’s Service 365 program, donating $2910 to assist with its mission in the Jacksonville community.
“Giving back to the community is one of our core values as a company,” said Atlantic Logistics’ CEO Robert Hooper, Jr. “We are blessed to have the means to help worthy causes in Northeast Florida like Ronald McDonald House. Most of us can’t imagine having to care for a child needing critical hospitalization. Ronald McDonald House Charities step in and truly comfort those families enduring such a difficult time. Their service to Jacksonville is something we want to support.”
Although Ronald McDonald House Charities is a well-known American nonprofit organization, global recognition doesn’t always translate to immense funding. Local offices depend on community donations to help fulfill their mission of creating, finding and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.
“Donations have a huge impact on what we do,” said Diane Boyle, the Executive Director of The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville. “Every donation is important to our charity. We value each one, whether it’s an in-kind donation or financial. Although we have many locations, we raise every penny of our budget right here in Jacksonville every year.”
For Boyle, gathering support for the mission or seeing it in action is truly one of the most extraordinary experiences of her career. That’s saying a lot for someone who previously worked to build educational capacity outside of Cape Town, South Africa, and served as an educational representative to the United Nations.
“We have families that come to us locally from the Southeast, the greater state of Florida, from all over the U.S. and even the world. They are seeking the best healthcare they can find for their child and they are finding it here in Jacksonville,” Boyle said. “And we are here for them. We remove the financial burden of having to go somewhere for a week, two weeks, a few months… From the time a family walks through those doors, this community of compassionate care addresses all of their needs. These are people in crisis. Knowing we are here to support them through their journey… I can’t express how it makes you feel to be a part of the team helping them.”
A special facet of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville is its meal program which helps families save money and stay as healthy and happy as possible. An in-house chef prepares daily meals for residents and a Grab and Go food program ensures people have access to food when and where they need it.
“It’s such a beautiful thing to see the families stop by the kitchen and ask the chef what she’s cooking for dinner,” Boyle said, “or when there’s a child on chemotherapy and she prepares something special tailored to that child’s medical needs. When you serve food with love, it’s medicine. And after a family stays here, they are often going home to a barren pantry, so we make sure to give them special totes containing enough food to get a family started when they arrive back home.”
For James Crichlow, Atlantic Logistics’ Marketing and Communications Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities is a critical community asset. Selecting them as a Service 365 recipient was a no-brainer.
“I met Diane Boyle some years ago and her passion for serving families was evident,” Crichlow said. “Families from all over the world benefit from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville when they come to town seeking care for their children. It’s my understanding that a large number of families served have neonatal infants and children battling pediatric cancers and heart defects. Parents in the midst of that medical maelstrom need all the financial and emotional support available. As a company, we’re glad to help however we can and hope that our local industry colleagues join us in supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville as well.”
Those wishing to support the Ronald McDonald House can visit their website to view a wish list of items they need locally. There is an Amazon wish list and a house wish list containing everything from food items and toiletries to kitchen utensils, gift cards and games. Financial donations can also be made via the website and Boyle says volunteer efforts area valuable component of providing care.
“Volunteers are very important to our mission and we welcome them. There are so many ways in which people can help,” Boyle said. “Being a charity, it’s just wonderful when we can develop partnerships within the Jacksonville community with people who embrace our mission and help support us. The truth is, there are so many wonderful people in our community that look at the nonprofit sector, see the need and seek out areas where they can make an impact and help people.”