MC girls XC team volunteers at Ronald McDonald House

By on May 30, 2018

Members of the Manheim Central cross country team prepared breakfast for those staying at Ronald McDonald House in Hershey on May 20. They got tour of the facility afterwards. Shown (left to right are) Mallory Sunderland, Emma Johnston, Savannah Heisey, Marianne Fitzkee, Erin Hoffman, Olivia Stewart.

Six members of Manheim Central’s girls cross country team served as guest chefs at Ronald McDonald House of Hershey Sunday, May 20. Savannah Heisey, Emma Johnston, Marianne Fitzkee, Olivia Stewart, Erin Hoffman and Mallory Sunderland prepared breakfast for nearly 50 people staying at the house.

Breakfast items included muffins, breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit, cereal and juices. The community outreach project was spearheaded by Sunderland, a Manheim Central junior. She explained that after she and fellow team members prepared the breakfast items they set them up to be served buffet-style. She estimated that the team served about 50 people &tstr; mostly parents of patients at Penn State Children’s Hospital, but there were some families with younger children.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to visit with them, but they were very welcoming and thankful for the meal we prepared for them,” Sunderland said.

After their guest chef stint, team members had a tour of the Ronald McDonald House.

“RMHC of Central PA keeps families near each other and the care they need through the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room,” said Karla Mitchell, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA, “We truly appreciate the community support we receive through our volunteer programs. Last year, 455 meals were prepared by community volunteers for families here at the Ronald McDonald House. After a long day at the hospital, families know they can rely on a hot meal at night and not need to worry about where it’s coming from or how to pay for it. It makes an incredible difference for our families.”

Sunderland began organizing the cross country team’s guest chef outreach in February.

“I looked on Facebook and saw that Ronald McDonald House was looking for volunteers for program,” she said. “I liked that idea since it’s something we could do as a team.”

Friends of Manheim Wrestling donated $200 to purchase food for the breakfast. Mallory’s father, Troy Sunderland, served as Manheim Central’s wrestling coach for eight seasons before stepping down last year. She explained that Manheim Central’s wrestling booster club wanted to honor her father for his service in some way.

“We talked about it as a family and decided we’d like to do something to benefit the community,” said Mallory’s mom, JoAnn Sunderland, an elementary teacher at Doe Run.

The family also has a connection to Ronald McDonald House. In second grade, at age eight, Mallory was diagnosed with Type 1 (or juvenile) diabetes. A few summers ago, she was admitted to Penn State, Hershey Medical Center, after suffering a seizure due to low blood sugar.

“Ronald McDonald House touched out lives through their hospitality cart,” said JoAnn Sunderland.

Serving at Ronald McDonald House in Hershey are (left to right) MCXC team members Erin Hoffman, Marianne Fitzkee, Olivia Stewart, and Emma Johnston. (Submitted photos)

According to Ronald McDonald House of Hershey, the organization’s hospitality carts are currently located in the family lounges on the third and fourth floors of the Children’s Hospital. They offer refreshments, snacks, activity books, fruit and personal care items for families staying close to their sick or injured child.

There’s also a Ronald McDonald family room at the medical center, which is next to the Children’s Hospital. It was created before the Children’s Hospital was built. The living area converts into sleeping space at night for family members with children so ill that leaving the hospital for any reason is not an option. It also serves those who live too close to be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Services are provided at no cost to families.

“Volunteering as guest chefs was a wonderful way for us to give back. We learned that they’re always looking for volunteers,” Mallory said.

Guest chefs can volunteer to prepare a daily dinner or a weekend breakfast. Other volunteer programs at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA include a baking program held daily, including weekends, from 1 to 3 p.m. for small groups; and a packed lunch program on Thursdays for groups to prepare lunches to be delivered by House staff to the Children’s Hospital on Fridays for lunch.

Groups can learn more and sign up for volunteer opportunities at

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at

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