LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Like many people Rena Whitmire spent a majority of her Thanksgiving day in the kitchen, but not her own.
Rena has been making Thanksgiving meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House Arkansas for 6 years.
“Even though they're misplaced and not at home, we'd like for them to feel as at home as they can so we make it as special for them as we would around family,” said Whitmire.
She was inspired to volunteer after seeing firsthand how much this place helps.
“We had some friends that they spent some time here with their daughter and so we got familiar with the house through them and how helpful it was,” she said.
According to Whitmire, it's all about helping parents like Lindsey Mullins.
“My daughter was born premature,” said Mullins. “She came at 31 weeks and five days old on Oct. 4., and we've been staying at the Ronald McDonald House.”
Mullins said she's grateful that she and her daughters have a second home.
“I'm able to go to the hospital during the day and spend time with my youngest daughter, and then come here to the Ronald McDonald house at night,” said Mullins. “I know that they'll have a hot meal, they've got snacks and food and friends.”
Mullins is also thankful for the volunteers who make sure families in the position don't feel alone.
“My girls don't feel like they're missing out on anything, really they still feel like it's an everyday occurrence for them,” said Mullins.
Inspired by all of the volunteers, Mullins hopes to return the favor one day.
“Once my daughter gets stronger and is able to come home, you know further down the road, I'd like to show her where we stayed and how much [The Ronald McDonald House] was able to help us,” said Mullins.
As for Whitmire, she plans to continue this tradition.
“You can help somebody feel loved and cared for and prayed for, then you feel like it's been a good Thanksgiving,” said Whitmire.
If you would like to learn about becoming a volunteer, click here.