Last year John and I woke up on Easter morning at the Ronald McDonald House. I had a small breakdown when I saw the Easter baskets at the bottom of the stairs, knowing our son was sedated and getting ready to undergo another surgery that day. Instead of going to church on Easter, we sat in a patient waiting room and had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Even after great news that evening, John and my Easter supper came from the gas station and we crawled in bed at the Ronald McDonald House again late that night.
This year, we spent Easter at the Ronald McDonald House again. But this time, we brought Elijah.
After some serious thought about how we wanted to spend Easter, John and I decided we wanted to give back to the place that gave us a shower and a bed last year on Easter. I contacted the volunteer coordinator and asked if we could serve an Easter meal to the people staying there. The date was available, and we started making arrangements. We decided a menu: traditional Easter ham, mashed potatoes, beans, fruit, rolls, and desserts. We purchased the groceries, and we brought everything with us to Iowa City.
With the help of my parents and my aunt, we spent the day preparing food for 35 people. One of the requirements for serving a meal is that everything must be prepared in the RMHC kitchen. While the ham baked, we prepped the other food. Thankfully my aunt is a master potato peeler and handled 15 lbs to feed all of the guests. In between preparation, we utilized the amazing playground out back and took in the gorgeous weather with Elijah. He was a rockstar all day and contributed his cheesy smile to the guests.
The day was emotional, and hearing people’s stories was inspiring. I can’t say much more because of confidentiality, but I’ll tell you it was the best Easter.
Sometimes I’m too busy to check my mailbox at school. I guess I should have made time yesterday because an extra special valentine was waiting.
John and I have made an extra effort to give back to The Ronald McDonald House Charities since Elijah was born. We used this service in Iowa City during Elijah’s surgeries so that we were never more than one mile away from him. We also used RMHC charities through St. Luke’s when Elijah was placed back in the hospital at one-month-old. Both locations offered support in the form of a shower and food when we were away from home.
My eyes were opened more than ever during our stays because of the people we came into contact with who were fighting battles much scarier than our own. Some of the people had been at the RMH for a year or more as they underwent cancer treatments themselves or watched their children fight cancer.
John and I chose to skip Christmas presents to one another this year and donate to the RMHC instead. The organization lists their “needs” online for anyone to purchase specific items or give a monetary donation. They need a lot because they serve a lot of people- more than 1,000 families from around the world each year.
My Valentine’s Day gift goes with this theme and the golden chocolate bar is just a bonus. The donation was given to the St. Luke’s Family Room and will benefit families in need.
As much as I love sharing gifts with my husband, we know that when we needed help, people were there. We want to return that favor in any way we can in the years to come.
We have no intentions to stop donating to RMHC, and we are even signing up for their Red Shoe Run/Walk in May. I considered running the half marathon for this event, but I think pushing Elijah across the finish line in the stroller will mean that much more to me than 13.1 miles alone. If you’re interested in joining us, you can even see John come out of running retirement to support the cause.