(Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Ronald McDonald House is bringing Christmas to families of sick children

“Elves Shelves” will allow parents and kids to ‘shop’ for gifts

Central Alberta’s Ronald McDonald House lit up for the holiday Friday – and kick-started its campaign to bring some Christmas magic to hospitalized kids and their parents.

Since families who experience health emergencies do not have time for gift shopping, this year, the house will set up some ‘Elves Shelves’ full of presents for parents to ‘shop’ for their kids — and children to ‘shop’ for their parents.

Charllotte Adkens-Weiler, the facility’s director of development and marketing, admitted she uses the term loosely, since no one has to pay. The gifts have all been donated by many people – from individuals, to Hutterite colonies, to corporations.

Families who’ve stayed at the non-profit house, or who know someone who’s benefitted from the low-charge accommodations and volunteer-prepared meals during their child’s hospital stay, understand how important the service is, she said.

The Christmas period can be very difficult for those who are focusing on their children’s health treatments. She said the aim is to make these lives a little easier over the holidays.

On Friday night, the house lit up for the Christmas season, with outdoor light decorating costs covered by FortisAlberta. Indoors, there were festive treats for families, donors, volunteers and board members.

The Adshade family of Stettler are staying at the House while Hudsyn Adshade, 3, recuperates from tonsil surgery. Mom, Rosca, and Dad, Jarrett, are happy to be able to be with Hudsyn, along with baby sister Everlie, 17 months.

“When we first came here we were in awe. It was so far above what we expected,” said Rosca, who feels it’s “fantastic” to not have to live for a week in a small hotel room.

While the family expect to return home soon, Rosca believes the Ronald McDonald House set-up is perfect for families who must be away from home over the holidays.

Rhonda Bonet-Graham, fund development manager, said every year there are people who stay over Christmas. How many families is unpredictable. She noted the House had a waiting list last week, but was only half-full this week.

Anyone wanting to make donations can check the “wish-list” on www.rmhcsca.org.


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