Volunteer Spotlight: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio

Julanne Hohbach

This monthly feature focuses on volunteer opportunities for Central Ohio families.

Having a seriously ill child is a scary situation. Traveling away from home for treatment adds an extra layer of stress. That's where Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio comes in.

The Columbus Ronald McDonald House, whose 137 rooms make it the largest in the world, provides lodging for families whose children are being treated at area hospitals. With an average occupancy rate of about 95 percent, a lot of helping hands are needed to keep things running smoothly. “Our program here is pretty robust. We've got several different ways to volunteer,” said Kate Becker, director of volunteer services.

RMHC of Central Ohio welcomes family volunteers. Minor children must attend with a parent or other adult; requirements vary depending on the activity.

Families interested in ongoing volunteerism can try the housewarming program. “We've found that it's a really great opportunity for young kids,” Becker said. Participants might staff the front desk, do laundry or otherwise help guests with basic needs.

One-time opportunities include making a meal for House residents, baking treats or working events.

But volunteers don't even need to come to the House to help. They can collect pop can tabs to help the nonprofit organization defray its electric bill, assemble snack or activity packs for residents and make welcome blankets that are given to families when they check in. “It's about 4,500 blankets a year,” Becker said.

More than 12,000 volunteers support RMHC of Central Ohio annually.

To get involved or for more information, go to rmhc-centralohio.org.