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Gordon Cameron

Would you like a donation with that?

Growing up I was the only one of my siblings who didn’t work at McDonald’s. So, close to two decades after my brother and sister last worked at the restaurant, I jumped at the chance to see what it was really like on the other side of the counter when I was invited to participate in McHappy Day.

Perhaps it was for the best that when I arrived in Dundas for a 5 p.m. shift it was decided that instead of risking me burning the place down by cooking, or subjecting the customers to my inability to make change, I was given a handful of paper shoes and a bag of rubber bracelets and asked to go sell them to those waiting in line.

I’m no stranger to this type of fundraising, but I quickly realized that my usual gimmick of yelling carnival barker-style to attract donors likely wouldn’t have gone over in such a small space.

By happenstance, one of the first people I spoke to was a volunteer for Ronald McDonald House at the McMaster Children’s Hospital, who reminded me of the work that the organization does by providing a home away from home for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at the nearby hospital.

“It’s too bad that we need it,” he told me. “But we do need it.”

Later on I met a woman who works as a nurse in Mac’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and has seen first hand the difference that Ronald McDonald House makes.

“Our parents would be lost without you,” she told me.

I think most people I spoke to that evening understood that. They knew the sort of comfort that the charity brings to families who are dealing with any parent’s biggest nightmare and they gave generously. Very few people turned me down outright and of those who did most merely didn’t have any cash with them and donated at the till. As far as fundraising goes, it was one of the easiest sells I’ve ever done.

In my few spare moments I did look over at the hive of activity that was the kitchen and the till. Everything seemed to be operating like a well-oiled machine, one that I definitely would have gummed up. During a brief respite from the wave of customers one of the young women working the counter told me that this was the busiest she’d seen it in her month of working at McDonald’s.

Before I knew it, it was 6:30 and the crowd had started to thin. My last half hour was a little less productive (and standing in a restaurant not yet having dinner was starting to take its toll), but I still managed to make my presence worthwhile for the cause.

At 7, the manager came out and asked me if I’d had enough. I figured that I had and followed her past the counter, the fry station, the grill and into the small office at the back of the store where I exchanged my bag of money for a certificate of appreciation and a few kind words.

I don’t know how much I raised, but it doesn’t really matter. No matter how much or how little I brought in, I know it will be used for a very good cause.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News

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