The Charity You Don’t Know About Until You Need It

One year ago my 12-day old daughter had surgery. This is the charity I didn't know about, but I was so grateful for.

One year ago my 12-day old daughter had surgery. This is the charity I didn't know about, but I was so grateful for.

One year ago today, my daughter had surgery. She was only twelve days old. When she was born, her doctors heard a heart murmur. Since we live in a small town, they referred us to the nearest children’s hospital to get her checked out. We didn’t think much of it. We knew lots of people that were born with heart murmurs that were just fine (including my husband and our son). 

What started as just a “better safe than sorry” routine checkup turned into one of the scariest things I’ve ever faced as a parent. LoveBug had pulmonary stenosis, and needed surgery to open one of her heart valves. We were lucky enough that it was a procedure that could be done via catheter without opening her chest.

One year ago my 12-day old daughter had surgery. This is the charity I didn't know about, but I was so grateful for.

Recovering after surgery.

Everything went perfectly, and the doctors even took images of her heart to show us when it was all over. In the mean time, we were stuck in a city almost three hours away from home. We had no family close by (except my mother who was staying at home with Monster). We had planned on being back home later that evening. We had no clothes, no toiletries, and no where to stay.

To make matters worse, it was cold and flu season. That meant no children under a certain age were allowed on the floor of the hospital where LoveBug was being cared for. We didn’t want to separate the twins for the day, so we brought SweetPea on the road trip with us as well. Unfortunately, the three of us couldn’t even stay in the hospital with LoveBug that first night.

One year ago my 12-day old daughter had surgery. This is the charity I didn't know about, but I was so grateful for.

SweetPea missed her sister the whole time.

That’s when the best thing happened. The hospital told us they had a Ronald McDonald House on campus where we could stay. It was a lifesaver. We could be just a few minutes away from our baby girl, and have somewhere warm and cozy to sleep.

In case you haven’t heard of this organization before, Ronald McDonald House Charities offer parents and family members shelter near the hospitals. They provide basic food and necessities. They even have a laundry room, a playroom for kids, a library, and a pumping station for new breastfeeding moms. You don’t have to pay to stay there, but donations are very much appreciated.

The Ronald McDonald Houses provide a “home away from home” for families facing a medical crisis. They keep families together when hotels are too expensive and too far away. They help families who are far away from their homes, in the most stressful situations. I can’t speak highly enough of them and what they do.

The wonderful people at the Ronald McDonald House fixed us up with a room to stay, toiletries, and even a portable crib for SweetPea. We made a donation, and wished we could have given them more.

We met people there who stayed for several weeks, sometimes months. They lived far away, much like we did, and would travel home on the weekends. We counted our lucky stars to have only needed to stay just a few nights. 

One year ago my 12-day old daughter had surgery. This is the charity I didn't know about, but I was so grateful for.

Momma & LoveBug cuddles. We were ready to come home.

We could have eventually tried to find a hotel. There’s no telling how far away from the hospital it would have been. We had a million other things racing through our minds, and couldn’t focus on what step to take next. It was such a huge relief to have this as an option, both financially and emotionally.

If you’re in the mood to give back this season, I highly recommend you look into your local Ronald McDonald House. You can visit their website to find a location near you. Donations are usually the easiest way to contribute, but you could also contact them to see if they are in need of clothes, jackets, books, or old baby toys. 

Every few months we make the road trip back to the hospital to get LoveBug’s heart checked out. Every few months I feel that same anxiety and panic until the doctor tells us everything is just fine. At least now I know should the worst happen again, we’ve got a place to stay.

One year ago my 12-day old daughter had surgery. This is the charity I didn't know about, but I was so grateful for.

Monster was so happy when we were finally home after being gone for three days.

I will always be grateful for our experience with the Ronald McDonald House. For me, it was the charity I never knew about until I needed it. I know other families feel the same. Have you ever stayed at one before? Have you ever been helped by an organization like this?

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About Samantha

I am a SAHM to three kids and a menagerie of pets. I love coffee, books, crafts, wine, cooking, and more coffee. Seriously, I couldn't function without coffee. Read more about me!


  1. Wow. What a lot for your family to go through. I am so glad there was a place to take care of you that night! And, I had no idea McDonalds did this!

    • I didn’t know either! And it was pretty rough, but I’m just glad it’s over and I’m so grateful for the way everything happened.

  2. The Ronald McDonald house is wonderful. We have had the opportunity to stay there as well when our son was very sick in the hospital. They tried to offer the comforts of home while we all know that is not possible. Thank you so much for sharing and you are so right it is not there until you need it. But when you need it I am so glad it is there.

    • I’m sorry your son was sick, but I’m glad you had somewhere to stay close to him! I agree, it’s not nearly as comfortable as home, but nothing ever is. 🙂 I’m glad there’s someone else who knows how wonderful they are!

  3. I recently just learned of the wonderful services The Ronald McDonald House provides, it is amazing!
    I’m am so glad your baby is doing well, and that you are trying to give back by spreading the word!

    • If at least one person sees this and decides to help, then I feel like I’ve done my job! (More would be better, but I’ll take any win!)

  4. I love RMH! Such a great organization for those parents of sick kiddos. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Isn’t it amazing to have access to accommodation when you need it? Makes me feel so lucky to live in a country where there are so many people doing good for the times when people really need it.

    • It was seriously a life-saver. When your child is in the hospital, you can’t really think far ahead enough to “I guess I should find a hotel…” It was so nice that the hospital had it right there for us.

  6. Wonderful that everything turned out with your baby! I cannot imagine that kind of stress. I am glad you found a safe place like that, I make a lot of clothing, toys, and other donations this time of year I will look into the Ronald McDonald House this year.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. A friend of mine stayed at the RM house for a long time after her twins were born. She has a huge fundraiser for them each year. I’m going to send her your blog. She will love it. Thanks for sharing. I hope you’ve linked this up at 100 Happy. days.

  8. Ronald McDonald house is amazing. When my eldest had her brain tumor taken out we had to go down to our local children’s hospital. Now every time she has to have an MRI (every 3 months) we are able to stay in one the night before. It’s not just for emergencies. They are truly amazing!! If you ever go through the drive through at McDonalds, they have a little red donation slot under the drive through window for change. That goes to the RMD house.

    • I didn’t know about the change at the drive through or the night before thing! That’s outstanding! I think they know we have to travel to get there, so our appointments haven’t been too early. However, that’s good to know for a just-in-case thing.

  9. I am so glad to hear your little girl is doing well. As a parent, I understand how scary it is when your little one is at risk from a health issue that you have no control over. I have heard of the Ronald McDonald charity before, but didn’t understand the extent of the support they provided. Now that I do, I will be more conscious to donate to such a wonderful cause.

  10. How scary! I’m glad you’re baby is okay. A close friend stayed in the Ronald McDonald House for several months after her baby was born. I know it was a huge blessing for her family. They are a wonderful charity.

  11. What a scary experience! I’m so glad The RM house helped you during that difficult time. I can’t imagine going through that as a new mommy with a newborn. Thank you for sharing your experience at #100HappyDays. I hope you link up again!

  12. Wow, I can’t imagine the fear wrapped up in those moments. I’m glad to hear that your babe is doing better. 🙂 And what an amazing opportunity! I have heard of the Ronald McDonald charity, but I’ve never read a story about a family who benefited from their services. It’s so great that you’re spreading the news & encouraging their charity. What a great resource to know more about!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at the 100 Happy Days linkup party! We love having you there. 🙂

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