Ronald McDonald House Charities

As it reads on their website, the mission of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida is “to create, find, and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children and their families in Southwest Florida.”

Deedra Shackford with the replica Ronald McDonald House she created. (Caloosa Belle/Val White)

The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida provides a place to stay for the families of seriously ill children who require overnight visits in the hospital which reaches beyond the basic amenities of a hotel and aims to provide the comforts of home during a time that can be ridden with anxiety and fear.

The house is equipped with a full kitchen and fully stocked pantry with foods donated and purchased for the families and on most nights a hot meal is prepared for the family. The house is conveniently located within walking distance to the Golisano Children’s Hospital but there is also a complementary shuttle service that runs continuously throughout the week. Internet, laundry, cable tv, and answering services are also provided for the family.

“We try to provide anything that the family will need to make them feel more at home, like they are in a real house and not a hotel.” says Amanda Nisbet, owner of the LaBelle McDonalds.

Because of their desire to provide these comforts to the families of sick children the organization relies heavily on the generous support and donations of those in the community through the donations of blankets, food, pillows, and other basic essentials as well as the more widely known campaign of the collection of pull tabs. Whenever a gallon of pull-tabs (the little tabs that you pull on to open your canned beverage) are donated, a night at the Ronald McDonald House is provided for a family at no cost.

The house has provided a safe haven for families of LaBelle many times; as the driving distance from the hospital to LaBelle can be a lot to handle for the loved ones of children who are receiving extended hospital care. While the generous people of LaBelle have been so giving of their donations to families in need there has yet to be, up until this point, a designated drop off for donations.

Outside the office at 30 South Main Street in LaBelle is now a beautiful replica of the familiar Ronald McDonald House donation receptacles. The donation drop box was the initiative of Deedra Shackford and is large enough to accept larger donations for the Ronald McDonald House. After having the box designed and built, Deedra along with Jessica Browning and Haley Mitchell painted the box to resemble the small boxes that we all recognize from donation locations.

If you have any donations please drop them off at 30 South Main Street in LaBelle.

To find a list of services provided by the Ronald McDonald House Charities along with a wish list and other ways to get involved please visit their website at

Val can be reached at

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