Village of Gingerbread Houses Helps RMHC Families Stay Together

Charity Aims to Raise $550,000 Through Interactive Virtual Experience

OAK BROOK, IL--(Marketwire - Dec 2, 2011) - Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) is encouraging families, friends and supporters to make a donation via a "Home Sweet Home" interactive webpage to help raise $550,000 by December 31 to provide stability and vital resources to 4.5 million children annually worldwide through its three core programs: the Ronald McDonald House®, the Ronald McDonald Family Room® and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®. The virtual experience invites visitors to donate and decorate a virtual gingerbread house to honor a loved one or share with friends via social media and Facebook.

"'Home Sweet Home' is a sentiment we have all heard, but rings especially true for families facing time apart because of the illness of a child," said Jennifer Blanchard Smith, senior director RMHC. "This Season of Giving, people can help RMHC keep families together during the holidays and throughout the year by making a donation and sharing the joy of giving with a personalized RMHC gingerbread house. The more houses our donors build in our virtual village, the more our Charity can do for families."

Donations of all amounts combined together can have a tremendous impact on people's lives. RMHC programs not only provide comfort and care to families, but also keep parents and their children together during the most trying times of their lives. And, research shows that having families close by helps children receiving medical treatment cope better and heal faster. RMHC programs also help alleviate a considerable financial burden. RMHC families who are battling a child's serious injury or illness at a hospital far from home would have to spend an estimated $257 million in lodging costs; these costs, coupled with the cost of their child's medical care, can be daunting.

The Bailey family's life changed when their daughter Elizabeth was diagnosed with a brain tumor and needed to have surgery and learn to walk again at a hospital three hours away from their home. "The support we received went beyond a warm meal, or comfortable bed," said Alia, Elizabeth's mom. "Throughout our stay at the House, everyone saw us as the 'Bailey Family,' not just a family with a critically ill child. Staff, families and volunteers got to know us as individual people, not just a cancer family. They recognized Elizabeth's great sense of humor, Katie's dimples, Shane's willingness to be an amazing helper, and that Garrett has the best giggle. It provided a sense of normalcy and strength that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise."

Because of the support provided to families like the Bailey's, RMHC was recently named one of the Top 25 Organizations and Charities for children according to The Charity continues to create new ways to support and advocate for children and families in need. One way is through interactive experiences tailored to the different ways donors can give back. From a virtual Ronald McDonald House where volunteers can learn about the different activities that help families, to this season's creation of an online gingerbread house virtual village, RMHC tactics are designed to create a sense of fun and exploration for supporters while also providing information about the organization's impact.

Since 2007, digital and social media have been essential components of the nonprofit's integrated marketing and fund-raising strategy designed to deepen relationships with and engage its network of supporters and communities through online conversations on the Web, Facebook, Twitter and blogger pages while encouraging people to donate to the families served by RMHC.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) corporation, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Through its global network of local Chapters in 54 countries and regions, its three core programs, the Ronald McDonald House®, Ronald McDonald Family Room® and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®, and millions of dollars in grants to support children's programs worldwide, RMHC provides stability and resources to families so they can get and keep their children healthy and happy. All RMHC-supported programs provide a bridge to quality health care and give children and families the time they need together to heal faster and cope better. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@RMHC) or like us on Facebook ( Global).

The following trademarks used herein are owned by McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities Logo, RMHC, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.
© 2011 McDonald's

Contact Information:

For more information, contact:
Clara L. Carrier
(630) 623-6573 Office
(630) 209-7617 Cell Phone or

'The support we received went beyond a warm meal, or comfortable bed,' said Alia, Elizabeth's mom.