Story by Sarah Sabatke
Mizzou sophomore Shelby Haskins still remembers the first time she volunteered at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri (RMHC). She went with her sorority sisters in Alpha Delta Pi in the fall of her freshman year. She’d only been in the sorority a week.
“Not only did I get to help RMHC and cook food [for the families], … but it also showed me that the other girls in [Alpha Delta Pi] really cared,” says Haskins, who chose the sorority largely because of its commitment to service. She is now the chapter’s newly elected president.
The national Alpha Delta Pi organization adopted Ronald McDonald House as its national philanthropy in 1979. The organization provides a free or low-cost place to stay for families who have to travel to be near their hospitalized children. The house in Columbia can hold up to 18 families.
Haskins has stayed involved with the charity for the past two years. She enjoys interacting with the families, especially around the holidays. When Alpha Delta Pi members decorated the Columbia house for Christmas this past year, one little boy stood out.
“He was peeking over at us to see what we were doing and got excited when he caught on that we were decorating the Christmas tree,” she says. The boy, who Haskins says was the sibling of a child who was in the hospital, started smiling, and the women invited him to help decorate.
“He would put an ornament on and smile and ask us, ‘Do you like it?’ ‘Do you like it?’ ”
Siblings of hospitalized children can feel overlooked. Haskins says they could tell the boy “was really excited that he had people there to talk to and play with.”
For Haskins, the experience exemplifies why Alpha Delta Pi members work so hard with RMHC. “Christmas is supposed to be super joyful, super happy, but when you have a kid in the hospital, that’s kind of hard sometimes,” Haskins says. “[This is] somewhere they can find peace.”
Alpha Delta Pi chapters, including the one at Mizzou, have fundraised for and volunteered at RMHC since 1979.
Locally, they have helped the Columbia house with most everything — “preparing meals, doing activities for families, and fundraising, of course, which is so important,” says Terri Gray, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri.
The sorority raised approximately $52,000 for the local house in 2017, according to Courtney Cohan, Alpha Delta Pi’s philanthropy chair. The group’s first event in 2018 raised just over $20,000.
For Haskins, working with Ronald McDonald House has made her grateful for what the organization provides. “It gives me a huge appreciation for what they do day-in and day-out,” she says. “To not just give the families a place to stay but to give them a home away from home.”