More Red Deer families are using the day-use program at Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta.
Day use has always been available but in November 2016 a room was specifically set aside for local families, equipped with a full washroom, bed and television, so they can grab a nap, shower, or just relax. They can also access meals and laundry at the house.
In 2017 a total of 845 day passes were used compared to 261 in 2016.
“It’s growing quite exponentially so that means the house costs more to run so we have to fundraise more even through the hard economy,” said Cassandra Galenzoski, event co-ordinator for Freeze the House Charity Bonspiel, a fundraiser set for Jan. 26 to 28.
The house, located at 5002 39th Street near Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, opened in February 2012 to provide affordable accommodations for children and their families who live outside the city and are receiving treatment at the hospital.
She said Freeze the House, held at Pidherney Curling Centre and presented by Fas Gas, generally raises about $150,000 for the house and is the charity’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The annual operating budget for the house is $1.2 million.
Last year the house welcomed 367 out-of-town families, up from 306 in 2016.
“The need is always growing for the house. It’s a good shoulder for parents especially for those who have children in the hospital. I think (Freeze the House) is really going to help them and help our community.”
People have until Jan. 17 to register to play in the 7th annual Freeze the House or just attend the Saturday night gala. Registration is $700 per adult team and $250 per junior team. Gala tickets are $75 each.
Those at the Friday night mixer will rub elbows with Paralympian swimmer Tammy Cunnington, retired curler Kevin Martin who won gold at the Olympics and four Briers, and his son Karrick Martin who plays lead for Team Brendan Bottcher on the World Curling Tour. Complementary tastings will feature Troubled Monk, Cilantro and Chive, Browns, and more.
Galenzoski said this year the Saturday night gala will be amped up with dueling guitars presented by the KlamDaggers and lots of raffles including a WestJet gift of flight package.
She said a scheduling conflict due to the 2019 Canada Winter Games will impact the bonspiel next year. Decisions have yet to be made.