Project Advent, Day 19: Dinner for Ronald McDonald House


Tonight I am tired, but very happy.  My family made dinner for the Ronald McDonald House tonight, and it was a complete success.  Of all the things I've done so far this month, this one definitely took the most planning, but the payoff was worth it.  My mom told me I should count this one as multiple days of the project, since it took more than an hour!

I'll be on vacation starting on Wednesday, and my original plan was to make dinner for the House later in the week.  When I called them, though, the week was already pretty full, except for today.  I asked them to go ahead and put me on the calendar, and resolved to work out the details later.

First up, deciding on a menu.  I had asked my friends to contribute for the meal, but wasn't sure yet what my budget would be, and I was also trying to figure out something that would both be good and that they might not usually have.

An interesting thing happened once I had announced this project and asked for contributions.  I began to get messages from lots of my friends, telling me about their own experiences with Ronald McDonald House.
"When our daughter was born and had to go to the NICU..."
"When my cousin was so sick with leukemia..."
"When my niece had to have a heart surgery..."
This only made me more determined to make sure this project went well.

I'm going to summarize my contributions and expenses in another post, but suffice to say that my friends' generosity was more than enough to make a great menu.  I decided that we would have:
I did all of my shopping Saturday,  at Sam's and Market Street.  Even when it's just for one meal, your kitchen gets pretty full when it's holding food for 40-50 people!  On Sunday, Blake and Ava helped me do some prep by washing, chopping, and bagging vegetables, so that all we'd have to do when we got there is cook them.  My mom made the macaroni salad.

About the briskets - I don't own a smoker, and there's no way I could have prepared that much meat on my own.  I'd heard that Rudy's BBQ will smoke your meat for you, for a fee, so I gave them a call.  They don't ordinarily take in customer orders on weekends, but when I explained that it was for the Ronald McDonald House, the manager not only agreed to do it, he agreed to do it for free.

Tonight, Courtney picked up the kids and the meat, while I went to the House and started cooking.  Right inside the front door was the sign at the right.

There are four ovens in their kitchen, which worked out just right for what I needed.  Beans went in one, vegetables in another, and pies in the other two.  While we waited for the food to finish cooking, the kids went into the playroom, where some other boys and girls who were staying at the House were playing.  I was really proud of them.  They played so nicely with those children, and I hope that it was a happy part of the day for all of them.  It was really sweet to watch.

A little past 6, I started pulling dinner out of the ovens, and the House staff announced that food was ready.  The Ronald McDonald House in Lubbock is directly across the street from UMC, and families work their way in over the course of the evening to eat, not all at once.  The House director told me that sometimes one of her staff will walk through the kitchen at midnight, and still find people in there eating.  Still, I'd guess that while we were there, a good 20 people came through, and they really seemed to be enjoying the food.  Several people thanked us very kindly, and told us that the food was good.  I'm going to pat my own back for a second here, and agree that the food turned out very good.

Take a look!
Beans, veggies, and brisket.  If you look on the other side, there's the same setup over there.
My mom's macaroni salad.  It is so good that you will like your own mom less once you've tried it, just because she's never made you anything this good.
Rolls, sauce, and butter
Usually, I'm eager for the chance to visit with people, but tonight I thought it would be best just to let people relax, have their dinner, and enjoy themselves.  I sat with my family as we ate our dinner, and just really enjoyed watching other families having their dinner.  I was so thankful to have been there, and that it went well.  My heart is completely full tonight.  I am ecstatic.

Gratitude Project: I'm about to type up a second post tonight, specifically to thank everybody who helped make this meal possible, but tonight I am so grateful to each of them and for each of them.  You have filled my heart with joy today, and filled the stomachs of families who are experiencing hard times.


Ali said...

as it should be.

Ali said...

I'm going to focus on the fact that you made me laugh with, "you will like your own mom less," instead of the fact that you made me cry. again. you bastard.

Danny Holwerda said...

My final service of Project Advent will be to stuff your stocking with mascara, to replace what I've made you cry off this month.

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