Making the Most of My Free Time

Now that my kids are in school all day, I often find myself feeling a little bored. I work part time, I hang with my friends, I volunteer in my children’s school, but it still feels like I have extra time that I want to spend wisely.

This week I answered a request for volunteers to work in the Ronald McDonald House kitchen to help serve lunch to 150 parents and children. If you’re a parent with some spare time, if you like slicing, dicing, serving and cleaning, then this might be a meaningful way for you to spend some time too.

The Ronald McDonald House provides a “home-away-from-home” for families with children being treated for serious, often life-threatening conditions at local hospitals. Because doctor’s appointments, family needs and financial worries make it difficult for parents with hospitalized children to rest or even find their next meal, the house provides nutritious and home made meals to any family with a child in a local hospital – even those not staying overnight at the Ronald McDonald House.

My volunteer shift, which ran from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. called for me to use some of my best “mom” skills. It started with chopping veggies for the grilled vegetable platter and cooking orzo for the pasta salad.

I love to cook, so these were comfortable tasks. However, never have I even seen food prepared for so many at one time, much less help to create those meals. It was fast-paced and eye opening!

There were a total of six volunteers and one paid chef who worked together to prepare the lunch menu, serve the meals and clean up after each guest was finished ~ the same things that I do nearly every night for my own family, but this was for families who are going through tremendous stress and worry.

While there, I saw numerous children with bandages and tubes of various sorts. I also saw families laughing, smiling and enjoying time together over a delicious meal. Everyone was so pleasant, and we were thanked numerous times for helping.

The dining area of the Ronald McDonald House is a comfortable place for families to relax even when not eating. There’s a piano, complimentary books, cozy couches and a beautiful courtyard with playground equipment. If you’re not the type of volunteer who wants to serve a meal, perhaps you’d like to volunteer to play the piano during mealtimes, or donate books for the reading areas, or perhaps you’d like to donate food or money to help keep this program going. Items on the kitchen wish list include canned fruits and veggies, toasters and oven mitts, pasta noodles and sauce.

Photo Credit: Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, which is currently fundraising to renovate the kitchen and dining room.

And, of course, there are many opportunities to support the house outside of the kitchen. For more information about the Ronald McDonald House, visit


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