Many families staying at Spokane’s Ronald McDonald House arrive with nothing: No luggage, pajamas or toothbrushes. They got a call that their child had been in an accident and was being rushed from Moses Lake or Sandpoint to a Spokane hospital. Or the mother gave birth to a preemie who’s months early. For weeks or months, these families will live at the hospital during the day and return to the Ronald McDonald House at night, exhausted and hungry. You can see the stress and fatigue on their faces. And you can see the gratitude when they return and find a hot meal prepared for them.
When we can, our family makes dinner for these families. It’s not an elaborate affair — often a Costco lasagna, some bread and a salad can do the trick. We serve the meal and then have the privilege of eating with these families, hearing their stories and seeing their strength under such challenging circumstances. It’s a powerful experience to see our 9-year-old daughter playing and talking with a 10-year-old girl undergoing chemo 100 miles away from all her friends and extended family. The House welcomes families like ours — or book clubs, or Girl Scout troops wishing to provide comfort and care to these families by preparing a simple meal. (Just make sure to call first.)
Another easy option is to check out their wish list online at rmspokane.org and pick up diapers or paper towels (or whatever they need) the next time you’re at the store. Ronald McDonald House • 1015 W. Fifth Ave. • 624-0500 (Tamara McGregor)
Get your craft kits out, people. The people at Volunteers of America (which provides services for homeless teens, parenting teens, homeless people in transition, veterans and more) are looking for people interested in making homemade Christmas cards for their clientele, specifically for the veterans they house.
All this requires of you is a few hours sitting in front of your TV — perhaps with a group of your best friends — sipping whatever libation suits your mood while turning construction paper and glitter into a homemade spectacle of holiday celebration. Design your card to specifically thank a veteran for their sacrifice or design a generic card that wishes a merry Christmas, a happy New Year’s, happy holidays or a happy Kwanzaa. It’s all about making someone feel special during these cold winter months. Bring your cards to: Volunteers of America • 525 W. Second Ave. • 509-624-2378 (Tammy Marshall)
Buy a Tree for the Cause
If you haven’t gotten your nondenominational holiday tree yet, consider buying it from L’Arche at the Safeway at Mission and Hamilton. Proceeds from the trees benefit the local nonprofit, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Act snappy, though, because the tree lot (which they call the “friendliest place to buy a Christmas tree in Spokane”) may close as early as this Sunday. L'Arche • 703 E. Nora Ave. • Call: 509-483-0438 (Leah Sottile)
Take the Wheel
Meals on Wheels has been delivering hot meals to homebound seniors for 40 years, but things tend to get a bit hairy around the holidays, especially when there’s snow involved.
“A lot of my drivers are seniors themselves, so it gets tricky with the berms and stuff,” says volunteer coordinator Heidi Mott.
Mott says MoW is always looking for volunteers to help schlep the meals around, and it only takes about an hour and a half each day. (You can choose how many days you want to help.)
All it takes is your own vehicle, a driver’s license, proof of insurance and the ability to pass a background check.
And what do you get out of it?
“Honestly, it’s the human contact, it’s the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day,” Mott says. “A lot of people have personal relationships with the seniors they’re serving. It’s important on both sides.” Meals on Wheels • 1222 W. Second Ave. • 456-6597 (Dan Herman)
Next time the cashier at Rosauers is ringing up your eggnog and fruitcake, ask her to throw in a bag of groceries for the needy. Through the holiday season, you can add a $5 or $10 pre-bagged package of groceries to your bill that will be delivered to Second Harvest Food Bank, which will distribute it to a local family. Rosauers • 326-8900 (Joel Smith)
Buy an Annual Manual
OK, this is totally a shameless plug for our yearly magazine, but the sales proceeds go to Coaches vs. Cancer Spokane, which was started by Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few to help raise money for cancer-fighting efforts. So pick one up at any Rosauers grocery store, and while you’re learning about places to eat, shop and have fun in the Inland Northwest, you’ll be benefitting a worthy cause. Also Rosauers. (Joel Smith)
For more ways to give, visit The Inlander's giving directory.