Ronald McDonald House opens free toy shops for hospitalized families

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Illnesses and health emergencies happen everyday throughout the year, including during major holidays like Christmas. 

To aid families and children who may unexpectedly have to stay at Dayton Children’s Hospital and other locations, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Dayton has officially opened three Winter Wonderland Toy Shops. 

The shops feature new toys donated by community members and RMHC Dayton has set up toy shops in each of their three program spaces where parents are able to “shop” for the perfect gift for their hospitalized child and their siblings.

“A lot of families have no idea they’re going to end up at the hospital,” said Rita Cyr, CEO of RMHC Dayton. “They may have toys but many do not and many haven’t had the opportunity to shop for their child.” 

RMHC Dayton provides these gifts at no charge, allowing families to enjoy the holidays without having to travel to a store or worry about the out-of-pocket expense. The organization strives to have the season’s most in-demand items. A wrapping station complete with bows and other trimmings are also available to the families. 

“We believe that no parent should have to choose between spending time with their hospitalized child and holiday shopping,” said Cara Arnold, RMHC Dayton House Program Director. “And thanks to the generosity of our community, RMHC Dayton families don’t have to.”

The first Toy Shop began nearly 20 years ago when a young child was unexpectedly hospitalized on Christmas Eve. His parents struggled with either leaving him alone in the hospital to retrieve their gifts for him or ruining the magic of Santa by not providing gifts on Christmas morning.

The young patient received his top Christmas wish, a Batmobile, and his family was able to keep the season’s magic alive.  

“The stress relief that you see reduced is incredible,” said Cyr. 

RMHC Dayton also provides a “Santa’s Mailbox” in the lobby of the Ronald McDonald House where young guests can leave their wish lists for Santa. RMHC staff then work with families to fill specific requests left by the children.  

The gifts are used throughout the year, as well. The gifts that are not selected or overstocked are saved and placed in a space for children and families to use throughout the year; in case of birthdays, anniversaries, post-surgery celebrations, and more. 

Anyone interested in donating to the Winter Wonderland Toy Shop may drop off new, unwrapped toys and gift items to the Ronald McDonald House, located at 555 Valley St., Dayton, Ohio 45404. Gifts can also be purchased through RMHC Dayton’s Amazon Wish List and be delivered directly to the House. 

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