There are few things more difficult than having a sick child in the hospital. But, add to that, having to sleep in a chair, pay for a hotel room or travel back home just to get some rest, and it’s almost unbearable.
To help alleviate some of the stress for families of children in two local hospitals, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond provides a variety of free services — from overnight accommodations and daycare for healthy siblings to meals for the whole family.
But, offering a “home away from home’’ for these families isn’t cheap. To help the charity continue its vital service, LUNCH.SUPPER! has teamed up with other area business to present the second annual Big Pig Project on April 21st at the restaurant, 1215 Summit Ave. in Scott’s Addition. The kid- and dog-friendly event, which will be held from noon to 6 p.m., features a barbecue street festival, ceramic pig auction, live country music, local craft market, beer, wine and more. The highlight will be the 50 ceramic pigs, which are sponsored and painted by local businesses, then auctioned off throughout the day. Last year’s pigs went for $200 to $3,000. While admission is free, there is a suggested $5 donation.
Proceeds will help support all the programs offered by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond, which cares for families of sick children not only from the U.S. but from countries all over the world. Most of these families are dealing with a child diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, while trying to relocate so they can be closer to a hospital that can best care for the needs of their child. With medical bills and traveling expenses, hotel costs may be out of reach. That’s where the Ronald McDonald House comes in. The Richmond house, located on historic Monument Avenue, features nine bedrooms, four common areas and a kitchen with double appliances. The home — equipped with toys, an outdoor play space for children and a community support system — can house these families for anywhere from weeks to months without a single expense.
In addition to the main house, Ronald McDonald House Charities also offers several additional programs that are free to patients and their families, such as:
Ronald McDonald Family Rooms – Located at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, it offer free, overnight accommodations for families within the walls of the hospital. There are three at VCU and two at St. Mary’s.
Ronald McDonald House Sibling Center – Located at the Children’s Pavilion at Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) at VCU, the center provides a place where families can receive free childcare for their healthy children while accompanying their sick child to doctor’s appointments.
Happy Wheels Hospitality Cart – Three hospitality carts, pushed through the pediatric and neonatal units at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital and ChoR at VCU, offer small comforts such as snacks, beverages and activity kits to families and patients who must spend long hours in the hospital.
Lunches with Love – Boxed lunches are prepared by volunteers and delivered daily to the caregivers in the Neonatal Intensive Care and Pediatric Intensive Care Units at St. Mary’s and CHoR at VCU.
For more information on Ronald McDonald’s House Charities of Richmond or the Big Pig Project, visit RMHC-Richmond.org/Events.