Two mothers with similar stories are teaming up to give back.
The Christmas with Heart vendor open house will take place on Nov. 1 at the Rice Road Community Church with also an emphasis on fundraising efforts for the Ronald McDonald House of Hamilton.
Vendors Leslie Gillespie and Leah Letford both had to endure the heart-wrenching experience of having a child receive care at McMaster Children’s Hospital.
Although the two moms were in at different times – they both received the same welcoming allure from the Ronald McDonald House.
The facility provides a home away from home for the families of seriously ill children who are staying at a nearby hospital. They offer families so much more than just a roof over their heads. The home features qualified staff and dedicated volunteers who are committed to taking care of the day-to-day essentials of running a home, so families don’t have to worry about them.
Leslie said it made a huge difference allowing them to affordability stay somewhere close to the hospital, while Letford describes it as “the most amazing place you don’t want to be”.
“They were very quick to take us in – giving us a place to rest, wash and eat,” Leslie said, as her three-month-old son received treatment at the ICU in McMaster. “Those little things are the difference from making it completely unbearable in such a stressful time.”
Across Canada, there are 14 Ronald McDonald Houses, providing more than 10,000 families a home away from home each year.
That home away from home in Hamilton not only helped the two families get through a difficult and stressful time, it opened their eyes to what many families think will never happen. That led to the vendor open house to raise funds for the often underrated facility.
With jewelry, crafts and other great gift ideas for holiday gift seekers available, they are hoping the first attempt at something will be successful.
Originally scheduled to be in the home of Christina Gillespie, Leslie’s mother-in-law, the vendors list kept growing as many wanted to help with such a powerful fundraiser, forcing them to find a new location.
Christine says once the church found out about the event, they quickly got behind the project and donated the space needed for 12 vendors.
Letford says a variety of businesses from Niagara and abroad will be setting up on Saturday.
“There all different vendors offering something unique, which is great,” she said. “We didn’t want to see repeats of products so each one has their own personal touch.”
Both moms are extremely thankful for the support they’ve received from local businesses and those looking to extend a helping hand. While unsure this will end up being an annual event, they hope the day can bring awareness to the facility that offers so much for families in Canada.
“After the word got out, we heard from lots of vendors who wanted to help with the event,” she said. “We wanted to keep it small in terms of vendors as it’s our first attempt at a fundraiser, but are hoping for big totals at the end of the day to help other families needing assistance from the Ronald McDonald House.”
The open house runs from 9-2 p.m. at Rice Road Community Church, located at 305 Rice Rd. in Welland. All proceeds from the raffle draw will head directly into the Ronald McDonald House of Hamilton. Visit facebook.com/christmaswithheart.