Donate that extra change. It helped give this child + others a better life at the Ronald McDonald House


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Thanks to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama, baby Kolt’s family was able to stay within walking distance of Children’s of Alabama for free. Photo via Kasey Carroll

Heading out of town for Memorial Day? We bet there’s a drive-thru stop in your future and we hope you choose McDonald’s. Keep reading to see how when you Round-Up for RMHCA it makes a big impact on Alabama families with sick children who stay at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (RMHCA).

A miracle baby in more ways than one

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Kolt was born at only 27 weeks. Photo via Kasey Carroll

After trying for 13 years and adopting two children, the Carroll family was pleasantly surprised when mom Kasey became pregnant with Kolt. After a complicated pregnancy and medical emergency, Kolt was born at only 27 weeks.

He was rushed from Dothan to a Birmingham hospital hours after being born. From that point forward, Kolt stayed in the hospital with no checkout date in sight.

Three stressful and heartbreaking weeks passed and the Carroll family was wearing thin. Since they lived in Dothan, the family had no relatives to stay with in Birmingham and saw their options dwindling.

“We’d been hotel hopping for three weeks. We’re thinking, ‘We’re going to have to sleep in our truck’ and we were worried to death. We weren’t even eating because we knew we’re going to need every little bit for a hotel room.”

Kasey Carroll
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Kasey and her husband adopted two children, one as a newborn and the other at five years old, before welcoming Kolt into their lives. Photo via Kasey Carroll

Thankfully, Kasey overheard another mother in the hospital mention the Ronald McDonald House on a phone call. Previously, a nurse brought up the House to Kasey, but the Carroll family didn’t think it was an option since they weren’t from Birmingham.

“I said to the mom ‘Could you tell me about the Ronald McDonald House? I heard your conversation, and we’re trying to find somewhere to sleep.’ She started telling us about it and I said ‘That is God’s gift, how do we get in?'”

Kasey Carroll

The mother told her she thought a family had to be from Birmingham to stay at the House. However, RMHCA serves families across Alabama, like Kasey’s, who live hours away from Birmingham. After a couple of calls, the family had a new place to rest their heads.

“Ten minutes later (our case manager) called us and said, ‘Hey, we got your room.’ And I said, ‘Seriously, it was that easy?'”

Kasey Carroll

As soon as Kasey arrived at the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham, everything changed. She was immediately greeted by friendly staff, had a shower, enjoyed their “amazing beds” and even had people volunteer to cook each night.

“I broke down crying. My husband hugged me—he was crying…We stood there at the front door hugging—him and I crying. I will never forget that moment.”

The Carroll family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham for 90 days. They returned for a couple of nights later when Kolt had a medical emergency. Each stay, Kasey says she felt support and love from staff, as well as guest families, who treated her like family. 

“When you go to McDonald’s or you see any kind of Ronald McDonald House box, please donate. Without them, we would not be here.”

Kasey Carroll

Meet the team behind Round-Up for RMHCA

The Carroll family experienced such exceptional care due to support from surrounding communities in Alabama, including the local McDonald’s restaurants.

McDonald’s is a lead donor for RMHCA, providing anywhere from 15-25% of their annual budget each year. The nonprofit raises the remaining funds and McDonald’s is a key player in those efforts.

“It’s a dual partnership. I couldn’t do it without them—they’re terrific and personally dedicated to the mission. McDonald’s is all about community and service.”

Katherine Estes Billmeier, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama

Four ways to give back through McDonald’s

  1. Request to Round-Up your McDonald’s meal to the nearest dollar. They donate your change to RMHCA.
  2. Buy a Happy Meal and McDonald’s donates two pennies for every one sold.
  3. Contribute spare change to the RMHCA Donation Boxes.
  4.  Purchase a limited edition Sleeve for Support at McDonald’s.

The McDonald’s owners/operators are actively involved by serving on RMHCA’s Board. Owners sponsor fundraisers like the Red Shoe Run, encourage employees to contribute to fundraising and share RMHCA’s mission with customers.

Your change changes lives

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If every Alabama McDonald’s customer contributed one penny to the Donation Box at each visit, it would raise $440,000 to help families in need. Photo via Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham

From a numbers standpoint

“Two pennies doesn’t seem like a lot when you think about the scale of money, but when you’re in the business to sell Happy Meals, it does make a huge impact for RMHCA. We are very proud that we do that as operators and directly affect the communities we serve, which is local.”

Nick Valluzzo, McDonald’s Owner/Operator, Birmingham and Guntersville Areas

McDonald’s supports RMHCA 365 days a year through these efforts. It’s not a one-day event or initiative with a time limit. You can always give back to RMHCA through McDonald’s.

“It’s a community-wide effort, but then it makes it easier to donate. We think it’s a small amount of money, but that small amount of money adds up and makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Jamie Black, McDonald’s Owner/Operator, Birmingham and Anniston/Oxford Areas

So, how much difference does spare change make? Take a look at the money raised from customers deciding to Round-Up:

  • 2020: $161,500.76 
  • 2021 (1st Quarter): $74,956.51

“I’m grateful for every customer of McDonald’s that goes through there and drops a penny, rounds up or purchases a Happy Meal. We are a community of folks together that are helping each other out during a stressful time. Many thanks to everybody.”

Katherine Estes Billmeier, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama

From a community perspective

Even without visiting the House, when you listen to the Carroll’s story and others like theirs, it’s easy to see what a HUGE help RMHCA’s services provide to families with sick children.

“I have had families tell me flat out if we hadn’t been here, their child would have died because they wouldn’t be able to get to the hospital quick enough, but we’re a block away from the hospital. It’s that close.”

Katherine Estes Billmeier, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama

When a family is trying to wrap their heads around treating a sick child, the last thing they need on their plates is wondering how to afford hotels, find a meal or do laundry. RMHCA gives families a comfortable place to sleep only seconds from Children’s of Alabama, hot meals and so much more.

“A family never expects to need the Ronald McDonald House—ever. You don’t go through life expecting that you need something like that…Donating a little bit of change can affect someone’s life.”

Nick Valluzzo, McDonald’s Owner/Operator, Birmingham and Guntersville Areas

Neighbors assisting neighbors

“We’ve had crew members who have had to stay at the House and use the facilities and those people are our biggest cheerleaders to get our crew motivated. They know what the Ronald McDonald House does and they can firsthand tell people what a difference it made in their lives.”

Jamie Black, McDonald’s Owner/Operator, Birmingham and Anniston/Oxford Areas

One of the best parts about Rounding Up or donating through McDonald’s, besides it being easy and convenient, is you’re directly impacting local families. Your money could be helping a coworker, friend or neighbor in Alabama.

“The money that goes into the Round-Up, donation boxes or two pennies per Happy Meal stays right here in Alabama. It’s not going to Chicago, or Hawaii or anywhere else. It comes to our Ronald McDonald House. You’re helping your neighbors whom you may know and may not know.”

Katherine Estes Billmeier, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama

Don’t forget to Round-Up for RMHCA next time you’re at McDonald’s. For more ways to volunteer or donate, visit their websiteInstagram, and Facebook.

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Donate that extra change. It helped give this child + others a better life at the Ronald McDonald House 1
Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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