As the end of the semester approaches and we feel the stress of finals, students in WSU’s campus organization SOAR took time out of their busy schedules to serve a community in need. On November 2, SOAR made a trip over to Rochester to spend their evening volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). The students arrived to RMH at 4pm, with groceries in hand, ready to prepare a nice, home-cooked meal for the families living in the RMH.

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The families there have a child receiving treatment from hospitals in Rochester. These children suffer from a wide variety of conditions, from pre-mature babies, to those battling cancer, each with their own unique story. Their days consist of many hours spent in the hospital, and some who are from across the country or world. They rely on the RMH to provide a place to stay, basic necessities such as toilet paper, towels, and food. In turn, the house relies on outside groups to provide meals for their residents. Also, many donations from the communities, such as food, blankets, and toiletries.

The SOAR students prepared a Mexican feast for the residents, which consisted of tacos, nachos, toppings, fruit, dessert and beverages. SOAR ended up serving 30-40 residents, and packaged leftovers for remaining residents who were still at the hospital that night. Families were very grateful and enjoyed hearing about Winona State and gaining an understanding of the work that SOAR does on campus.

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The students also were able to tour the facility after serving the meal. The facility houses 42 families, in apartment-style rooms. They also provide all laundry services, game rooms, nightly activities for children, relaxation time for the parents and numerous other amenities for the families to lessen their stress during this time. One of the most incredible aspects of the RMH is how they run on community donations, from people all around the world. They receive donations from people from India to Alaska and everywhere in between. People return home after their stay, and tell their neighbors about the great things that RMH in Rochester provided for them, and it inspires them to donate to an organization that they may had never heard about otherwise. Also, most staff at the RMH were volunteers who have dedicated up to 20 years of their lives to helping serve and care for these families during their difficult time.

Any clubs or organizations seeking to make a difference in our community is more than welcome to volunteer their time or resources to the RMH. This can consist of making and serving meals, donating food, toiletries, tie-blankets, pop-can tops, or monetary donations to support the house’s daily needs. If interested, contact RMH at 507.282.3955 and mention that you are hoping to help out!

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Overall, serving at the RMH was an incredible, eye-opening experience and SOAR hopes to continue serving there and inspire other organizations to serve as well.

-Sophie Schmitz

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