McHappy Day raises millions of dollars across Canada

Business doubles at McDonald’s restaurant in Ponoka during McHappy Day, the company’s annual fundraiser.

Business doubles at McDonald’s restaurant in Ponoka during McHappy Day, the company’s annual fundraiser.

On May 8 a dollar from every Big Mac, Happy Meal and McCafe drink went to a charity of choice for owner/operators across the country, said Ponoka owner Tony Hoffman. “It’s a big day where we get to involve lots of people from the community.”

“We’ll serve thousands today,” he said.

Hoffman invited the community to help out during the fundraiser by passing out meals at the drive thru or in the café by passing out drinks as well. This year Ponoka’s McDonald’s donated all their funds to the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer.

“It’s a real opportunity to for us to give back to the community on a grand spectrum,” Hoffman added.

This is the 14th year Hoffman’s store has taken part in the fundraiser and he looks forward to the experience. “We love it. We get to meet our neighbours in the community.”

There are some people who just to be a part of McHappy Day, said Larry Mathieson, executive director of Ronald McDonald House in southern and central Alberta. On a corporate level the fundraiser is like a second Christmas when the company can help drive funds to a positive cause. “It generates a lot of needed operating funds for the house.”

Mathiseon feels central Alberta understands the need of the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer since the area raised $27,000, compared to Calgary and southern Alberta, which raised almost $20,000.

“Central Alberta has really held their own given their population base,” he added.

The house provides a “home away from home” for families who are treating children and approximately 60 to 65 per cent of families at the Red Deer home are there for the neonatal intensive care unit and the rest use the home for other health needs.

The house charges $12 a night for a family but the actual cost to run a room for one night is closer to $200 and more than $1 million a year to operate, said Mathieson. So the group is constantly fundraising to pay for programs and staffing needs. “This type of funding actually helps us bridge that gap.”

Ronald McDonald House also provides day services for those who need a shower or need to do some laundry while staying at the hospital. Many families have already made use of that service.

This year McHappy Day raised more than $4 million across Canada. “That’s a lot of $1 donations for sure,” said Mathieson.