Hometown Highlight: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Amarillo

For parents, there is nothing worse than the pain of watching their child being admitted to a hospital. Whether it is for a short procedure or for months of treatment, when a child becomes seriously ill and is submitted to the hospital, the whole family hurts. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Amarillo recognizes this hurt and strives to make this difficult time more bearable for families.

Located in Amarillo’s Harrington Medical Center Complex, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Amarillo offers families a place to stay while their child receives the medical attention they need. According to Executive Director Shelley Cunningham, often times for a family to stay close to their child, it requires them to sleep in uncomfortable conditions such as on a cot or hospital room chair and staying in a hotel room can often be a financial burden.

To ease this burden, the Ronald McDonald House provides a temporary home to families who must travel to the Amarillo area for any pediatric medical treatment, which defined by the organization includes children ages from birth – 21 yrs. old.

In 2016, 240 families stayed at the Amarillo location. Although about 80 percent of the families served at the Ronald McDonald House have premature babies in the NICU, families are welcome to stay for other medical services.

“It’s [Ronald McDonald House] for any child receiving any kind of medical treatment in Amarillo,” Cunningham said. “It can be for hospital care, outpatient, dental or hearing. It can be for vision or if they are coming for physical therapy or going to an ear, nose and throat specialist. … Sometimes we have a family with a 7:30 a.m. appointment where the child has to fast the night before. It’s easier for the family to stay with us the night before than for them to leave at 4 o’clock the morning of and travel.”

On average, families stay at the house for 15 days; sometimes longer depending on the child’s treatment. Families are never charged or given a bill for their stay, but are instead encouraged to donate $20 per night to go toward the Share-A-Stay program. The program helps provide financial assistance for future families in need so that they can stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

Each family is given a private bedroom and bathroom and the use of a centralized kitchen, dining room/living room and laundry room. While in the house, families are responsible for cleaning their individual areas (and kitchen when used), their own laundering, grocery shopping and cooking. Individual small refrigerators, food cabinets and food staples are provided for each family. The main purpose is to give the family a comfortable, home-like place to recharge.

“We could not do this without the help of the volunteers in the community,” Cunningham said. “The volunteers make it possible for us to do what we do. Whether it is serving on the board, holding item drives for the house, helping cook meals for the families or bringing therapy dogs to the home or doing activities with the families – we couldn’t do what we do without their support and help.”

Other ways to help the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Amarillo, include donating items on their Wednesday Wish-list or shopping on Amazon. Amazon.com donates 0.5 percent of your purchase price to the Ronald McDonald House when you shop @AmazonSmile.

For more information about the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Amarillo or to learn how you can volunteer, visit their website or call them at 806.358.8177.