COMMUNITY HELPING HANDS

Spreading hope to Columbia’s ‘home away from home’

brantin@thestate.com (803) 771-8306July 13, 2014 

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbia hasn’t been clowning around with its 13th Annual Lights of Hope fundraising campaign.

The campaign, which runs July 1-31, has raised nearly $9,000 toward a $15,000 goal. The funds will be used to support the programs and services of the Ronald McDonald House at 2955 Colonial Drive near Palmetto Health Richland.

The house is continuing its “lighthouse” theme that was started last year. A painted lighthouse is in front of the house and a new stripe is added for each $1,000 received in donations.

The Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families of critically ill or injured children who are being treated in area hospitals. The house operates at 91 percent occupancy and last year served 205 families that traveled from 36 countries and four states.

“The Lights of Hope campaign is just one of the many ways we attempt to get the community involved to continue to support these families that are seeking shelter and solace during an extremely stressful time in their lives,” Ronald McDonald House executive director Karen Marinelli said.

In 2013, the Ronald McDonald House provided more than 2,600 nights of lodging, while the average stay was 13 nights.

The lodging cost is $50 a night, and guests are encouraged to make a $10 donation per night. But families are never turned away because of an inability to pay.

The Ronald McDonald House has an average waiting list of 13 families and last year could not accommodate 124 families. A capital campaign is underway to build a larger facility.

“It is only because of the generosity and support of the community that we have been able to continue to ensure the highest quality of care and comfort for these families by providing them a safe and comforting ‘home away from home,’ so they can focus on being together when being together matters the most,” Marinelli said.

For more information about the Ronald McDonald House or to donate to the Lights of Hope Campaign, visit www.rmhcofcolumbia.org or the house’s Facebook page at RMHC Columbia, SC, #LightsOfHope14.

Pompoms and pancakes

The Apple Gold Group will be cooking up some pancakes to support the Keenan High cheerleaders this weekend.

The Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar franchisee will hold host a Flapjack Fundraiser from 8-10 a.m. Saturdayat Applebee’s restaurant, 245 O’Neil Court, Columbia. Proceeds will be used to buy new uniforms and warm-up gear for the squad as well as props for upcoming competitions.

“The Apple Gold Group takes great pride in its partnerships with local high school athletic teams and student athletes,” said Michael Olander, the group’s president and chief executive officer.

The breakfast costs $7 and includes a short stack of pancakes, sausage and beverages. Tickets will be available at the door.

Applebee’s partners with local nonprofit organizations to help raise money for their causes. Breakfasts can be held on Saturday or Sunday mornings. To request a Flapjack Fundraiser for a local group, visit www.aggrestaurants.com.

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