Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan is asking for help from the community to make the holidays brighter for families of children spending the Christmas season at the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room team is hoping to put together gift bags for caregivers and their hospitalized children and have provided a Holiday Wish List for community members who wish to give presents to the families at the Victoria Hospital. Family Room Manager Nadia Balystka asked that items be in by Dec. 16, so that staff and volunteers have time to get the gifts ready to distribute to families.
“Lots of kids are going to stay in the hospital during the holidays, so we want to make their stay brighter and happier,” said Balystka.
Some items from the Holiday Wish List for caregivers include slippers, gift cards for restaurants and bookstores, travel sized personal items, and gingerbread house decorating and DIY ornament kits. Items for the kids include children-sized Christmas t-shirts or pajamas, arts and crafts, holiday or winter themed puzzles, Christmas window clings, and baby toys. Gifts for the Family Room are also accepted, such as seasonal children’s books (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice), Christmas stockings, and gift cards for Walmart.
The Family Room located inside the Pediatric Unit is one of four programs run by Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan. Since opening their doors in 2016, they’ve supported more than 3,000 unique families of hospitalized children from Prince Albert and northern communities by providing a comfortable 1,200 sq. feet “home-like” space where they can rest and decompress only steps away from patient’s rooms. As an extension of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, with the opening of the new Malhotra Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit in Sept. they launched a food program that supports NICU families with food provisions on a daily basis.
“Seven days a week, RMHC-SK provides nutritious food, beverages, and snacks for all families admitted to the new Malhotra NICU that are available to them 24 hours a day,” said Balystka in an email to the Herald. “In addition, our travelling Hospitality Cart visits once per week delivering lunches, comfort items and support that RMHC-SK has made famous.”
The number of guests depends on the number of patients at the time, according to Balystka. When the hospital is filled with children, the Family Room can see close to 10 to 12 families per day.
“We provide families with food items, perishable and non-perishable; we run the lunch program every week. There is a shower and laundry facilities, we have a beautiful play area, living room, [and] computer station for families,” said Balystka. “We try to support families staying in the hospital with their kids in every possible way.”
Community members wishing to gift children and their caregivers with items from the Holiday Wish List can reach Nadia Balystka at 306-930-5422 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan website also has an online donation option.
Balystka noted that because Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan is a non-profit organization, in order to support the operations of the Family Room and the food program in the NICU, they are always looking for volunteers and donors. The Family Room team is also happy to provide tours of the facility for interested individuals.