BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – Mill Creek Elementary School students are collecting spare change to help build a new Ronald McDonald House in Winfield.
The students are partnering with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and the Cadence Health Foundation. The new Ronald McDonald House will be built across the street from Cadence Health’s Central DuPage campus in Winfield, officials said. Delnor Hospital in Geneva is part of the Cadence Health system.
Ronald McDonald Houses provide a place for families to stay at little or no cost when they have hospitalized children who are receiving treatment, according to its website, www.rmhc.org. Families can have home-cooked meals, private bedrooms and children’s playrooms while staying at Ronald McDonald Houses, which are now in 58 countries.
“Cadence Health [Foundation] has provided us with little boxes that turn into little homes,” Mill Creek Principal George Petmezas said. “The student council has taken the lead on this, passing them out to all the students. They take them home and collect any change they can find, fill it and bring it back here. Any money we collect will go to Cadence Health for the Ronald McDonald House.”
The students’ goal is to raise $5,000 by the end of the school year. The spare change fundraiser will go through the end of February, Petmezas said, then students will decide other fundraisers to do, including during their annual fun fair.
Petmezas said he and other schools’ principals and officials were invited to an informational presentation this summer on the project. Students chose to embrace it, he said, not only because it is a good cause, but also because a student at the school has cancer.
Cadence Health Foundation is raising $6 million over two years to pay for the facility. Chris King, spokesman for Cadence, said Mill Creek is the only school participating in the fundraising so far.
The new Ronald McDonald House will be 18,000 square feet and will be able to accommodate 12 families. Groundbreaking is scheduled for March 18, and construction is expected to take about 11 months.
The new facility will be the fifth in the Chicagoland area and the first in the region connected to a nonacademic medical center.