THE SEASON OF GIVING: How to support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire this holiday season and beyond

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire is looking to make the seasons bright for families in their care this holiday season. Billy Sorochak, the CEO and executive director of the RMHC of the Coastal Empire, emphasized the importance of donations and community support when it comes to serving families in the hospital.

"You have families going through the most difficult times in their lives. Now when you get to the holiday season, there's the added pressure and burden to take care of your family even more and everybody wants to have Christmas. Everybody wants to have a nice holiday, but you're talking about families now that are staying here, they're not home. For obvious reasons, they're not out shopping, they're not able to do that," said Sorochak. "And now you're in that conundrum of how do I have that normalcy, even if it's only for an hour on Christmas morning with my family, so I can't even imagine the stress added to an already very critical situation."

Every holiday season, the RMHC of the Coastal Empire creates a holiday store for families to shop and select presents for their children and families. Currently, the Ronald McDonald House is looking for new, unused gifts for all ages (infancy to adulthood) that can be donated and delivered directly to their address at 4710 Waters Ave.

"For the holiday season, what we're looking for, obviously, is support for the children and families that we're serving both currently and in [the] past. In 2022 with the community's support, we were able to take care of the 13 families that were staying with us through the holidays, plus an additional 84 families that were in dire need that were past families that just weren't going to be able to have Christmas without someone's help, and being part of the RMH family, we were able to last year provide those things. So where we find ourselves here in 2023 is, we know the world's changed, we know the cost to things are going up. But we've seen minimal holiday donations, which is a first for us here at the house. And what we're hoping is that families that are out there can support by purchasing items for newborns all the way up to 16 years of age for both boys and girls, something that would make a nice Christmas and drop it off here at the house unwrapped."

Sorochak attributes this year's minimal holiday donations to more need in the community, a larger number of non-profit organizations, and the rising cost of daily essentials. "Right now, cost of food has gone up and cost of gas has gone up and just daily living. It's just going to happen, but we know that people always find ways and as the as the adage goes, if you don't ask, you'll never know. So we're sharing what we're trying to do with it. We're very transparent. We want the world, the community to know that we're taking care of the ones that need it. We're taking care of families that have not been able to rebound from the high medical costs they endured."

Families could stay under the care of the Ronald McDonald House for as short as one day or as long as needed. To date, the longest family stay has been 253 days. Sorochak said every year, they provide around 4,284 night stays.

click to enlarge THE SEASON OF GIVING: How to support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire this holiday season and beyond
Photo courtesy of Billy Sorochak
2023 holiday season at the Ronald McDonald House

For those looking to support the Ronald McDonald House beyond the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. "For those that might not be able to do it now but want to support after the holidays, besides giving monetarily, there's our wish list and just our day to day operational things that need to run in house 24/7. There's opportunities to volunteer whether it's working here at the house, volunteering or one of our family rooms or our hospitality cart." Cooking a meal one night for a family staying at the hospital is another way community members can support. "There's opportunities for the holidays, but there's obviously a lot of opportunities well beyond," Sorochak said.

On July 11, 2024 the RMHC of the Coastal Empire will celebrate 37 years of serving the community. "We've been very blessed to serve this community for 37 years, very humbled to be able to provide services when there's no services like ours provided in this area. So we're serving the most critical cases, we serve every illness, every injury, so it's not one specific. Whether it's a newborn baby to a child with cancer, to an accident on I-16 or a drowning in Hilton Head, we're going to take care of those children and we're going to take care of those families."

During the holidays in particular, Sorochak said it's an important time to support families that can't be home. "Everybody should have something to open on Christmas Day and that's what we're trying to do because you're giving hope too. It's one less thing they have to worry about, one less thing they have to be stressed about," Sorochak said. "Their family dynamic is back together and [they're] just normal for a minute and I think we all want that."

The RMHC is currently accepting new, unopened, and unused gifts for all ages (infancy to adulthood). Donated items should not be gift wrapped.
To see the RMHC Amazon wish list, visit:
All Amazon Wish List items can be delivered directly to the Ronald McDonald House at 4710 Waters Avenue, Savannah, GA 31404.

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