Recently, one of my coworkers sent out an email stating that she was going to start collecting soda can tabs. She set up bins in our break room and our kitchen so that everyone could deposit their
tabs. I did not think much of it at first. I also tend to be a bit forgetful at times, so after the third or fourth time of retrieving my Mello Yello can out of the refuse bin to rip off the tab, I decided I should probably ask why I am working so hard to get these little tabs. Instead of just wondering or aimlessly Tweeting about my dilemma, I chose to go straight to the source, and ask my coworker what was going on. What I got was an amazing answer about how little pieces of metal can really help a family in their time of need.
Jolene Reeder is a hearing clerk at our firm. In other words, she’s one of the people who can keep our attorneys organized. She is about to approach her one year anniversary with the firm and has really hit a stride in her position. We actually have the same lunch schedule now so I get to see her on a daily basis. Two days ago I just bluntly asked her about the soda tabs. I assumed that they were for some elaborate homemade necklace or suit of armor, but she said I was very wrong. In fact the tabs actually help raise money for a charity near and dear to her heart; Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Jolene then shared with me the story of how she became aware of the organization. “My daughter Charlotte was born with a rare congenital nasal condition called Congenital Nasal Pyriform Aperture Stenosis, in short that means when she was born her nose was too small and she couldn’t breathe through it. It also causes other medical issues like Solitary Median Maxillary Central Incisor which means you only have one front tooth, which Charlotte has, and the fusing of anything that goes down the midline of the body. Something I didn’t know until that day is that babies are nasal breathers, so this posed a huge issue.”
Jolene went on to say that her daughter was transferred from a local hospital in Marietta, OH to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. For those of you who aren’t aware of the geography of Ohio, Columbus is about a two hour drive from Marietta. She also stated that the Columbus Hospital confirmed her diagnosis and informed her that the treatment could take weeks or months.
As a mother with a child just over 24 hours old and 200 miles away, Jolene had a lot to think about. “My husband and I started to weigh our options of where we could stay because the closest hotels were pretty expensive and we just couldn’t afford an extended stay. My husband’s grandparents lived in Columbus about 20 minutes from the hospital, so we thought we could stay there for a bit. But being a mom, it scared me to even think of being that far away, even though it was only in case anything happened.”
I am sure any parent in a similar situation as Jolene could empathize with her dilemma. On top of worrying about a sick child, she and her husband were also concerned with finding a place to stay near the hospital. “The same day we arrived at the hospital, after talking with the doctor’s, the nurse who was in charge of my daughter’s care that night asked where we were from. We explained that we were from Beverly, Ohio which is about 2 ½ hours from Columbus, she immediately asked if she could call over to the Ronald McDonald house and see if they had an empty room for us.” The Ronald McDonald House was just across the street from the hospital. “We left that evening from the hospital and headed across to the Ronald McDonald House. They gave us a room and a bathroom for as long as we needed it. However, they also gave us peace of mind. They were absolutely amazing, they had communal kitchens with all sorts of food that you can help yourself to and each night they tried to have some group/church/ or volunteers bring in dinner for the resident’s so that we didn’t even have to worry about cooking and getting a decent meal. The entire house is run by volunteers and they only accept donations for the rooms. They told us up front that if we could donate when we finally got to leave that it was great, but if we couldn’t then it was no problem. Luckily we only had to stay 2 weeks. Charlotte had her first surgery to open up her nasal passages, and it was a success! They even allowed my son and father in law to come and stay with us.
This was all great to hear, but I was still puzzled about how the soda tabs come in to play. Jolene told me that she has been collecting these tabs since her daughter was born. They still go up about twice a year so that her daughter can do checkups and make sure everything is ok. She gives the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House administrators who then recyle the tabs. The money made from this process is then put back into the house to help other families in need.
To this day, Jolene remains grateful for the services provided by the Ronald McDonald House Charities. “The Ronald McDonald House will always have a special place in my heart because they gave us a place to stay, they showed us so much kindness and ultimately they gave us HOPE!”
Since 1974 Ronald McDonald House Charites have helped millions of families with sick children. To read more about the organization, or if you’d like to donate, check out their website.