Ash Flat Mayor Brien Nix Hall signed a proclamation proclaiming Feb. 3 through Feb. 9 Ronald McDonald House Week.
McDonald's Restaurants in the Ozarks started placing red paper hearts on their walls and windows Jan. 28. For 18 days citizens are being encouraged to adopt a heart by donating $1 to the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks.
Forty-one mayors in the participating region were asked to support the campaign by proclaiming Feb. 3-9 Ronald McDonald House Week in their towns including Flippin, Mountain Home, Berryville, Ash Flat, Harrison and Gassville.
McDonald's Restaurants that are part of the Ozarks co-op are participating in this 10th annual Share a Heart Campaign to help local families of ill and injured children, said Debbie Kinser, vice president. With every dollar donated the contributor will autograph a red paper heart that will be displayed at McDonald's through Valentine's Day.
Hall said, "It is absolutely vital that our communities join together in a cause that benefits our children and their families as serving as the Ronald McDonald House. We proudly join in giving our support to such a wonderful life-giving cause."
Every heart comes with an official entry form for the May 3 drawing for one winner of a Ranger 175 DVS Bass Boat and Ranger Trail Trailer, contributed by Sport Boats USA and Ranger Boats, Kinser said.
Since its beginning, the Share a Heart Campaign and accompanying boat and trailer giveaway and Buddy Bass Tournament have contributed over $325,000 to the Ronald McDonald House.
Kinser said, "This is an opportunity to share with the communities the services provided to families of ill children by the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks."
The campaign is expected to provide nearly 20 percent of the funds necessary to operate the Ronald McDonald House, a 14-bedroom home in Springfield, Mo., which requires in excess of $250,000 annually to operate. One-hundred percent of this on-going need is provided through donations from the private sector, Kinser said.
The bass tournament and drawing for the boat and trailer are slated for May 3 at What's Up Dock Marina & Highway in Kimberling City, Mo. The Buddy Bass Tournament will be conducted by the Missouri Lakes Bass Club. New in 2003 is a contestant-only drawing for a Yamaha 115 HP outboard motor, contributed by Yamaha Outboard Motors.
The cornerstone project of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks, the Ronald McDonald House is a "home away from home" for families of seriously ill or injured children who are required to travel far from home for medical attention.
The mission of the House is to provide lodging, comfort, hope and emotional support during one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences a family may ever face. The House has helped nearly 5,000 families and will begin its 15th year of helping children and families on March 20.
The average length of stay for each family during 2002 was estimated at 10 days. That figure was up from 8.8 days in the year 2001. The most common diagnosis of children last year were: prematurity 37 percent, high risk maternity 13 percent, respiratory ailments 15 percent, general surgery 6 percent and trauma and accidents 6 percent, Kinser said.
Sixty volunteers staff the Ronald House for 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. Other volunteers assist with outside projects. Some of the programs and services available to families include the Family Fund for emergency expenses, parents as teachers, parenting skills videos, transportation, community directory and the AT&T calling card program.
Parents of sick children rarely have time to prepare adequate meals for themselves because it is additional time they will be away from their hospitalized child. One of the many programs and services available to help such families is the Family Dinner Program.
Organizations, families and those who participate in the Family Dinner Program prepare or deliver meals to the families nearly every night of the week with hot nutritious food to nurture their bodies and spirits, said Kinser.