“What can we do to help?”
It was the question Jackelin Duran, Riverside Receptionist, asked during a tour of the local Ronald McDonald House. It was a question she would take to heart and one which would inspire her fellow teammates to make an impact.
The visit to the Ronald McDonald House came at the suggestion of Valerie Morrison, Rental Sales Professional, after she and Jackelin had discussed ways to get more involved in the community. The Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House serves as a home away from home for families of children receiving care at the nearby Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. Guests are provided basic amenities, including a fully stocked kitchen and pantries.
The COVID-19 pandemic added an extra layer of strain to an already stressful time for guests. With access to shared areas limited and parents less willing to venture out for their own goods, the demand for donated supplies has been high.
First, the Riverside and Oxnard stores each contributed $250 which Jackelin used to buy snacks and personal hygiene items. She and Parts Specialist Hugo Leon used Community Time to package items into more than 250 individual-size bags. Valerie and Sales Professional Brian Caro then delivered the bags to the Ronald McDonald House.
While making the delivery, Brian spoke with the Ronald McDonald House director who described the challenges the pandemic has added to their ability to serve guests, resulting in some families having to live out of their vehicles instead of staying inside the House.
“That hit home, personally,” Brian said. “That visit pulled me away from only seeing six inches in front of my face.”
Brian was inspired to help and to do what he could to spark that inspiration in others. He suggested the two stores follow up the first donation with a food and supply drive, and he began reaching out to teammates and other resources. The response he received, he said, was incredible.
Among the hundreds of food and personal hygiene items the team donated, through a personal connection with a nearby farmer, Brian secured a donation of 400 pounds of fresh produce, which he picked up from the farm and delivered. Quantity of donations aside, Brian is adamant that the real value of the effort is what it brought out in others.
“Without everyone who went to store, or picked things up, or donated time, everything I’m talking about is no more than words,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a one-time thing. I want this to be a part of who we are.” And his goal to inspire others has not gone unnoticed.
“Brian doesn’t like to be put in the spotlight, but I think he deserves recognition for his effort,” Jackelin said. “He had been a great help and so supportive.”
As a thank you for the contribution, the team received a hand-written and illustrated note from seven-year-old Matthew, a Ronald McDonald House guest. In his note, Matthew describes the bright spot in being able to stay at the House with his friends, mom, dad, and sister while enduring leg surgery and physical therapy, and shows that sometimes there is no better indicator of impact than the words of a child.