CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston provides free housing and meals for families who have children receiving care at local hospitals. Staff say they have had to cancel or postpone fundraising events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Marketing Director Rachel Morrison says 95 percent of their budget is from local fundraising events and donations.
“This pandemic has changed many things,” Morrison said. “One thing has remained the same, that is our mission of providing a clean, comfortable, safe and healthy home away from home for these families that still must travel even through the pandemic for their child’s medical treatment.”
Their operations are also different now in effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston usually can serve up to 32 families at a time.
That number has dropped to 20 to allow each family to have their own bathroom. A negative COVID-19 test is also required, and siblings can no longer stay at the house because of COVID-19.
Atlanta resident Vivian Momo is staying at the house as her 10-month-old daughter recovers from brain surgery.
“Being able to find a place and not stressing about where we’re going to stay we have food that is offered here," Momo said. “It’s hard to put in words,” Momo said.
Momo says she’s grateful and it’s a prayer answered to stay there for free. She says her daughter has been living in hospitals most of her life as she receives care.
“Being in a hospital for this long it ruins you financially, it’s hard," Momo said.
She says she appreciates how welcoming everyone is at the house.
'They make sure they ask you ‘how’s your baby, how are you doing,’ it’s so important," Momo said.
Morrison estimates that they are about $200,000 short in this year’s budget.
“We truly rely on the Charleston community to make sure that our house is run and open to our families every single night,” Morrison said.
She says their food operations have been impacted greatly and it’s been a big hit to their budget.
“Prior to COVID, our Meals that Heal program is where volunteers come in and they bring all of the food supply, the groceries, everything they need to cook a meal,” Morrison said. “They would bring it into the house and cook here.”
Now volunteers are not allowed inside the house as a safety precaution. The house is now paying for all meals, which must be provided by a restaurant, a commercial kitchen or establishment as a safety precaution.
“We’re thankful for the donations that come in, and we are trying to support local restaurants and making sure that our families stay fed,” Morrison said.
As for Momo, she doesn’t know how long her daughter will need medical care at the Medical University of South Carolina. She says the meaning of her daughter’s name, who she calls Mori, has manifested.
She says her daughter’s name means “I found grace, I found wealth, I’ve found health."
“That’s what’s we’ve been finding so far,” Momo said. "Everything that is good is what she’ll find, everything that is best on this earth.”
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston is seeking donations and volunteers who can support them in having meals delivered.
If you would like to sign up to fund meals, volunteer with food delivery or have questions, you can email Volunteer@RMHCharleston.org or call the main office at (843) 723-7957.