It would be fair to say that no industry, business or person has gone untouched by the current global pandemic, and the charity sector is no different.
Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) ACT and South East NSW, which provides free accommodation for families of seriously ill children at Canberra Hospital, has had to postpone its biggest annual fundraiser, the RMHC ACT Lexus of Canberra Gala Ball, and associated car raffle. It has also been forced to change a range of its functions due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Executive Officer Michelle McCormack said the local charity, like many other businesses, had to navigate a few changes to keep the vital service running during this time.
“We have had to suspend the ‘Meals from the Heart’ program indefinitely and we went with Mobile Meals from the Heart,” she said.
“We instead instigated a fundraising campaign for people to donate and have individual restaurants provide single packaged meals to our families, rather than come in and cook themselves. The idea behind that was also to support local business during the lockdown period,” she said.
In addition, the RMHC Family Room at Canberra Hospital, a space where families of young patients can take time out and relax, had to be closed. Instead, the charity rolled out a ‘Wrapped in Love’ initiative to provide families with basic care packages.
The House has also had to reduce its room capacity to adhere to social distancing, and function with only essential volunteers for a period of about eight weeks.
“We are working on getting our volunteers back at the moment with a phased approach, but we are mindful that as we do it, we are doing it in a staggered and methodical way,” Ms McCormack said.
“It was really challenging not having them as they are crucial part of what we do here, and we are just really grateful to have them back.”
With new ways of doing business come new ways for the community to help and Ms McCormack said there was still a lot people could do if they were able to.
“It’s hard because we are mindful many people are losing their jobs, but children don’t stop being sick or stop being born early and we have kept our doors open to support these families,” she said.
“Things like donated pantry items are always really appreciated for us to continue to provide food for those staying with us. But they need to be individually packaged like snack pack chips/biscuits and muesli bars and non-perishable items,” she said.
“The Mobile Meals from the Heart program is also still available for people to donate to online.”