LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — This Thanksgiving, Ronald McDonald Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA) is celebrating its 40th birthday. RMHCA was officially designated as a chapter on November 25, 1981.
The Ronald McDonald House is located on the campus of Arkansas Children's Hospital and serves as a home away from home for families that have critically ill children in the hospital.
The house with 32 family suites gives loved ones a place to sleep, eat, and do their laundry at no cost to them.
Neibin Laibwij is from Carroll County, located about three hours north of Little Rock. She has been at the Ronald McDonald house for about two months as her baby recovers from a heart transplant. Laibwij said the sense of family means everything to her.
"You can talk to anybody about your problems, about what you're going through," she said of those in the house.
"They're always there to listen and hear you out. It kind of helps a lot, because family's far away."
Peggy Todd started volunteer cooking at the Ronald McDonald House on the day after she retired in 2014. She now works there part-time and brings her friend Cindy Cupit along to help.
"We've been cooking together since I was about 12 years old," Cupid said. "That's been a long, long time."
No meals are more special than the ones they prepare for families staying at the house.
"Dinner really is a big thing when you're just so downtrodden and you've got nothing to look forward to but being in the hospital all day, and you're away from home," Todd said.
The pair said each meal they prepare is about sharing love with a family, and the entire experience has changed their perspective.
"It has made me realize not everything is bad," Todd said. "You come here and you look around and you see those families and they have such hope. It just makes you realize things are better. Things are good.
The Ronald McDonald House operates entirely on donations. This holiday season, a $10 donation can help sponsor a family's one-night stay. Click here to learn more about how you can give.