Giving Tuesday: Ronald McDonald House SWVA raises more than $13k

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Virginia raised $13,263.00 as part of Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is a day to donate to a good cause to kick off the holiday season.

Parents who have a child in the hospital in Roanoke but live more than 25 miles away have a place to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

RMHC Board of Trustees member Robert Brailsford explained donations fuel the operation.

"The families stay here, we feed those families," Brailsford said. "All of those donations help accomplish that mission."

Board of Trustees members spent a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon gathered together in a conference room, all with a phone in hand.

"We are celebrating the National Day of Giving by contacting folks who have supported the Ronald McDonald House in the past to see if they would like to support us again this year," Brailsford explained.

Within a 10-minute period, $500 had been pledged to the cause.

"Are you serious? Oh my gosh, that's a bell ringer," a trustee member told a caller.

The board celebrated by ringing a bell and cheering.

The donations help people like Leslie Loftis, she and her husband live three hours away from Roanoke.

Loftis needs to be in Roanoke every day because of their daughter Ruby's premature birth 5 weeks ago. She was born 8 weeks early.

"I'm a first-time mom so it was exciting. Even though she is early, just I get to be a mom," Loftis said with tears in her eyes.

For 5-weeks now, her baby has been at Carilion's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

"I'm here all the time day and night," she said.

She's been able to be with her daughter because of the Ronald McDonald house, where she has been staying free of charge.

"The rooms are kind of set up like a hotel but it feels like a home," she said.

She explained staying at hotels to be with her daughter would have added up quick.

"There is no discharge date yet, so I'm here until my baby eats on her own."

The RMHC of Southwest Virginia helps fund, not just a place to stay and meals to eat, but the emotional support of the volunteers.

They also have established a Ronald McDonald House Living Room on the 14th floor of Roanoke Memorial Hospital, down the hall from the NICU. The adult only's space's slogan is "Keeping families close by providing a place to care for adults so they can care for their children."

The living room is available for any adults needing a place to relax while their children are in the hospital's care.

Loftis also appreciates the kindness of the volunteers that have been helping her.

"To have the volunteers come in, who are so friendly, many of them have been in my situation," Loftis said. "It's nice to have someone to share stories with."

The RMHC organization accepts donations year-round and also encourages people to volunteer as well.

Click here for more information about donating.