AUSTIN, Texas — Families staying at The Ronald McDonald House in Austin are often going through difficult times of their lives.
The pain of having a sick child being treated in the hospital weighs on them, and that burden becomes heavier during the holiday season. But volunteers from Friends of the House make it their duty to help lift that burden each year with a little holiday makeover.
For three years, Friends of the House have gathered to help cover Ronald McDonald House with wreaths, garlands and lights. Christmas trees draped in colorful tinsel and ornaments are featured on each of the four floors of the building, each with it's fair share of decoratory presents underneath.
The goal is to create a winter wonderland for families in desperate need of holiday joy.
Ronald McDonald House Director of Development Kristin Campbell said bringing the holidays to the families is just another way of making them feel at home.
"Families might be away from their home actually on the Christmas holiday," Campbell said. "We want to make sure that both them and their children experience the kind of Christmas Spirit that everybody else gets to during this time of year."
Christmas isn't the only holiday Ronald McDonald House and Friends of the House brings to these families in need. Volunteers cooked Thanksgiving dinner for families staying at the house, giving families a chance to enjoy a holiday feast during a dark time. Campbell spoke to one father who was thankful that the house provided a positive experience they thought they would miss.
"He was thrilled because he so hopes the rest of his family can experience the holidays just as they normally have," Campbell said. "That's another part of what we do is just to help make things as normal as we possibly can as people are away from home."
The Ronald McDonald House will hold their annual Lights of Love event to unveil their holiday decorations. Families and donors will gather at the house for a tree lighting ceremony to officially kick off the holiday season.