Ronald McDonald is a fictional character known for his red hair, yellow jumpsuit and clown-like appearance as the mascot for McDonald’s. In Knoxville, he is known as the mascot for Ronald McDonald House, the first one in the state to open its doors in 1985.
This tremendous facility in the Fort Sanders area has two houses that can assist up to 65 people daily, serving families who have a child 21 years or younger who is being treated at any medical facility in town. To date, the house has served families from basically every county in TN, 41 different states and 7 countries. Supported 100% by donations, the house has housed 60,000 people since opening. The shortest stay has been one night and the longest being 23 ½ months.
The average cost for a motel room in Knoxville can range upwards to over $100 a night but at Ronald McDonald House, if a family cannot make the $5 per night donation, it’s completely free, no questions asked. In addition to a private room, they have food, laundry facilities, transportation if needed, plus a supportive environment where they have other families and/or staff to offer comfort.
Director Sue Beverly reminds, “Remember the old adage ‘The kitchen is the heart of the home’ and it certainly proves to be true here. Twenty-four hours a day as our families are either going to or coming from the hospital, they typically make a quick stop there to see what’s cooking or to grab a quick bite.”
The house and kitchen are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, encouraging volunteers to come prepare meals for the guests and some of the families who have longer stays enjoy having the normalcy of home by preparing a meal.
The constant use of the kitchen necessitated a remodel of the kitchen which was a major renovation. Fortunately, a local church needed a new-to-them kitchen, so they sent a team of contractors and volunteers to do the demolition for free in exchange for the cabinetry, old appliances, & countertops, saving thousands of dollars.
Next, about 15 companies who partner with Ronald McDonald House worked to create the beautiful new kitchen in the feature photo with each of them donating a portion of their work. Director Beverly says, “We feel so very blessed to have such a bounty of caring, compassionate companies that believe in our mission and want to be part of the work we do.”
To get information on Ronald McDonald House: Ronald McDonald House
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