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Ronald McDonald House helps families
Savannah center helps families here
Nikole Gore-Layton of Savannah’s Ronald McDonald House spoke to Hinesville Rotarians on Tuesday. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
Parents struggling to care for a sick or injured child have plenty to worry about without the added stress of having to secure accomodations and plan meals.
Savannah Ronald McDonald House Director Nikole Gore-Layton, who spoke to Hinesville Rotarians on Tuesday, wants families  in difficult situations to know there are resources available to them. Although it’s in Savannah, the Ronald McDonald House is open to  Liberty County families.
“We are in Savannah, but we service a great deal of the lowcountry,” Gore-Layton said.
“It serves 30 miles outside Savannah,” she said. “Last year, 20 percent came from this city [Hinesville].”
The Ronald McDonald House can accommodate up to 10 families at one time.
“The heartbeat of the program is the Ronald McDonald House,” Gore-Layton said. “We’re a home away from home when your child is sick.”
Resident families have access to food, showers and other amenities. The program is designed to lessen the burden on parents and siblings caring for a hospitalized child.
“Anything you think of when you think of your home, we have here,” Gore-Layton said.
She said it costs around $65 a night to house each family. The organization asks families for $10 donations, but does not require payment.
The Ronald McDonald House program doesn’t end with housing and food. Gore-Layton said the organization provides other services, such as family rooms to comfort and help overwhelmed parents relax and a mobile care vehicle. The vehicle is a dental office on wheels staffed with caregivers who help underprivileged children maintain good dental health. Every year, it travels to schools to give examinations and cleanings.
“We helped 2,500 children last year and we’re looking to exceed that this year,” Gore-Layton said.   
There are no requirements for receiving assistance from Ronald McDonald House. Anyone can apply to the program.
“There is no demographic for staying in the house,” Gore-Layton said.
She said the program always needs return support from the community and there are many ways to help, including the share a night program (individuals share the cost of a family’s stay) and the adopt-a-meal program (families volunteer to cook for other families), in addition to many volunteer opportunities.
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