How you can help local charities this Christmas

By Gemma Ferguson.

The festive season is all about spending time together with loved ones and enjoying those traditions that have stood the test of time. For us uni students, it means hitting pause on our studies and heading home for the holidays (whether it’s here in the Hunter or further away).

But what if that isn’t an option? For some families, like those who have a child with a serious illness or injury, Christmas will be a little different this year. Many families will find themselves far from home, so their child can get the urgent medical assistance they need. That’s why the work of charities like Ronald McDonald House (RMH) Charities Northern NSW is so important.

To support the families of seriously sick or ill children these holidays, the group collaborated with local businesses to give families the best gift of all – each other – during their greatest time of need. The #12DaysRMHChristmas campaign will bring businesses and the community together to help families in need. The fundraiser will provide a home away from home for those traveling for medical reasons, like Dawn’s family who were urgently rushed from their Central Coast home to John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

Here, baby Dawn was diagnosed with total intestinal aganglionosis just days after her birth. This makes it virtually impossible for her to digest foods, and there is no cure. During a time when most parents can happily introduce their new child to family and friends, Dawn’s parents, Geri and Steve, were forced to travel far from home so Dawn could receive the care she needed.

Ronald McDonald House provided a place for them to stay, a warm shower, food, support, and the ability to focus on the most important thing: their child’s health. As a result, Dawn was able to enjoy her first Christmas at home – a privilege we often take for granted.

“We can never describe the true impact Ronald McDonald House has had on our lives. We can’t thank them enough,” Steve and Geri said.

Unfortunately, many other families aren’t that lucky. A serious illness or injury won’t wait for the festivities to pass.

CEO of Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW, Ross Bingham says, “Accommodation is usually at capacity over Christmas and we rely on the generosity of the community to make providing a home away from home for families with seriously ill children possible.

“Children whose families stay at Ronald McDonald House tend to be the sickest, have travelled the furthest distances for care and spend the longest time in the hospital. Their lives change instantly.”

He said this makes what should be a happy time of the year, an incredibly stressful one.

“But with the support of these amazing businesses and the community, we can give families the gift that will help them the most – each other,” Ross added.

For every donation the community makes this Christmas, each business participating in the #12DaysRMHChristmas will match that amount up to $1,000 each. But the charity needs our help to make it happen! Head to the website to show your support for #12DaysRMHChristmas.

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