By Megan Wehring
After raising over $100,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas (RHMC) last year, local McDonald’s restaurants are gearing up to raise even more this year in the February Share the Love fundraiser.
Parenting comes with its own challenges, but with children who are suffering from a critical illness or injury, it’s like a never-ending obstacle course. Many families are forced to travel far from home for medical treatment — RMHC works to lift this burden by providing a place to stay and meals to eat.
While no family is turned away, RMHC is relying on fundraisers like Share the Love, especially now that there are less volunteers because of COVID-19.
“Since the pandemic, they have really been struggling,” said Cindi Ferguson, local McDonald’s owner and operator. “Because you can’t get the volunteers in and it’s closed to people other than the families of the children who are sick.”
Customers can purchase a cut-out image of a pink house, write their name and display it in their local McDonald’s restaurant. A minimum of $1 is required to purchase the house and customers can choose how much to donate. All proceeds raised will be directly donated to their local Ronald McDonald House.
“We ask people if they would like to make a donation,” Ferguson said. “We have pink houses that we sell. The regular price is $1 but if you want to make $5 or $10, we would be more than glad to take it. That money is all given for them locally.”
Other ways to support families at RMHC include rounding up your next McDonald’s order to the nearest dollar and participating in the annual Bandana Ball in September. This is typically an in-person event with a silent, live auction. Just like last year, it will be held virtually.
Ferguson and her husband Jimmy Ferguson), married for 42 years, have worked with McDonald’s restaurants for almost 27 years. Following their first restaurant in Elgin, they now own and operate several across Central Texas: Buda, Kyle, Killeen, Belton, Temple, Harker Heights and many more.
More than a year into the pandemic, Ferguson confirmed that McDonald’s employees are essential.
“They feed people, as people may not go anywhere but a drive-thru so they can get out of their house,” Ferguson said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, my people gave 110%. We gave all kinds of food away to first responders and I have a food pantry set up for my employees because a lot of their spouses get laid off. It’s just like any other business.”
Ferguson added that her favorite part of the job is the “McFamily.”
“I love the Ronald House,” Ferguson said. “I love the fact that our employees get really involved and they love to do the fundraiser. I love that the community wants to help, they are active. Even if you don’t use it, you know that somebody else does.”