Restaurant raises funds and smiles

Boys and girls who were once stuck in hospital have told a veteran Dubbo restaurant manager she and her team put a smile on their faces.

Jackie Hunt has no doubts that thanks to the Dubbo community's support, they have helped sick children and their families through some of the toughest times.

As fast-food giant McDonald's gears up to meet a record collection target of $3.66 million on its 21st McHappy Day on Saturday Ms Hunt shared why she was convinced about the importance of the fundraiser - because she'd heard it from those who had stayed at a "home away from home".

"They come into the store and tell us what they did (at a Ronald McDonald House)," she said.

"The parents are speechless, they can't explain how good it was to be able to stay with their child.

"It's really touching."

Ms Hunt, who started working at the restaurant's front counter aged 14 and 9 months, yesterday hoped to continue the good work this year.

She said the windows at McDonald's already had a thick covering of special paper hands, bought by individuals and businesses ahead of her 12th McHappy Day.

"It's always well-received, but there's always room for more Helping Hands," she said.

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Australia is an independent, non-profit organisation that helps seriously ill children and their families through a variety of programs.

Its houses are attached to major women's and children's hospitals to provide a "home away from home", it helps young patients catch up on missed education and more.

This year McHappy Day proceeds will go a long way to helping RMHC with its future plans including to build or extend five new Ronald McDonald Houses, open 17 new family rooms, support the learning program and continuing a mobile care service.

Ms Hunt said that while people could make a donation to RMHC all year, McHappy Day was a special occasion.

"We invite the community to come out, have your face painted, see the Dubbo Rescue Squad and we have surprises for kids," she said.

"Thank you to the Dubbo community who've bought Helping Hands . . . without their support, we wouldn't be able to put a smile on sick kids' faces."

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