With every heart adopted, the contributor will "autograph" a heart that will be displayed at McDonald's through the entire month of February. Every heart also comes with an official entry form for the March drawing for a $1,000 MasterCard, made possible by Great Southern Bank.
Monett Mayor Jim Orr will join nearly 40 other mayors in the participating region signing proclamations declaring Feb. 5 through Feb. 11 to be Ronald McDonald House Week.
Located in Springfield, the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks has served the needs of 464 Barry County families and 351 Lawrence County families since opening in March 1988.
Members of 14 Barry County families stayed 241 nights at the Ronald McCDonald House in 2011, and 17 Lawrence County families stayed 180 nights during 2011.
The Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks provides a "home away from home" for families of seriously ill and injured children who must travel to Springfield for medical treatment. The facility provides lodging, hope and comfort during time of unspeakable hardship.
Other amenities available through the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks include home-cooked meals through the organization's family dinner program, laundry facilities, transportation to hospitals and support from volunteers and caring staff. The setting also provides other families going through a similar experience a chance to give each other encouragement and support.
Jeffrey and Chris Burk, of Aurora, whose son, Eli, was born five weeks early at Cox Monett Hospital are among those who utlilized the services of the Ronald McDonald House this past year. Eli was transported to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Cox Hospital South the day after he was born, because his lungs were not fully developed.
"We were warmly welcomed and made to feel right at home at the Ronald McDonald House," said the Burks. "Everyone was so friendly and supportive. We spent days at the hospital and nights at the Ronald McDonald House. They gave us delicious meals, support, and amazing place to call home and some peace of mind. I don't know how we could have managed two weeks with Eli in the NICU without the Ronald McDonald House."
The Jeremy and Jacqueline McIntire family, of Pierce City, had to take their newborn son, Derek Shane McIntire, to the Cox South NICU with difficulty keeping his body temperature and blood sugar regulated.
"When I was released from the hospital, the Ronald McDonald House gave us a place to stay," said Jacqueline McIntire. "Our first night was also Derek's older brother, Trey's, birthday. I hated that he had to spend his birthday that way but when I told the staff at the Ronald McDonald House, they found presents to give him and made him birthday brownies.
"Everyone in the house was very nice and they made us feel like family," Jacqueline continued. "I couldn't ask for a better place to stay at a time like that. We got to take Derek home a couple of days later and he is doing great."
Reanna Angel, of Verona, gave birth to her daughter, Savannha Leona Salazar, seven weeks early via C-section due to pregnancy complications. Savannha was transported to the NICU at Cox South with lungs that had not fully developed.
"My nurse told me about the Ronald McDonald House, and I was able to get a room," Reanna said. "They provided the families with a private room, a hot dinner each night and a laundry room so I could have clean clothes. The staff was so friendly and helpful in my time of need."
Plans are moving forward to build a second Ronald McDonald House for the Ozarks area on the sixth floor of St. John's Mercy Hospital in Springfield, beginning in March. The 8,000-square-foot facility will be located next to a new pediatric intensive care unit and will help families of sick children and high-risk maternity patients with overnight stays in its 10 bedrooms.
The Share a Heart Campaign raised more than $80,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in 2011. Donations from the private sector provide funding for the house each year, which requires more than $550,000 annually to operate.