Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn
You may not be aware of this, but February is one of my least favorite months. Close in rank only to November and December. I even like August more with the hustle and bustle of school starting and summer vacations drawing to a close.
Every year, February ushers in fuzzy little cupids with their misguided bow-and-arrows and my birthday. And in my family, it marks the closing of winter and the opening of spring preparations. With it comes fewer boot days and warmer weather.
But February also brings with it a partnership that is near and dear to my heart, Food Checkout Day. In 2011, when I started coordinating the event for Farm Bureau I knew almost nothing about Ronald McDonald House Charities®. And come to find out what I did know was for the most part incorrect.
My first Food Checkout Day featured just a touch of snow and a massive Fire v. Police shopping spree throw down. It may have also been the last year that the Police won. Hmmm.
As representatives from Oak Lawn’s Fire and Police departments raced through Jewel in their search to find food items for the Ronald McDonald House. FFA members from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences raced behind them to catch the items and return them to the checkout. Farm Bureau members stood at the ready to sort the items and announce the winner. In that moment, I thought the race and its dramatic finish was the pentacle of the day. In the end, we donated over 11,600 pounds of food and $4,300 to the Charity.
However, our evening didn’t end with the shopping spree or the police escort back to the Ronald McDonald House near Advocate or even with the food fire brigade into the House. Instead our event ended with a mom staying at the House speaking openly about her child’s illness, treatment, and their stay at the House. The memory from that day that has stayed with me the longest was driving home and waking up my then two-year-old blue-eyed girl and thanking her for being healthy. It was after midnight when I made it home and she had gone to bed before seven p.m. even though her dad was in charge that night.
Since 2011, our event has transitioned significantly and grown to include events in Chicago and Oak Lawn. We’ve added sponsors. New donors. New partners. And we’ve raised over $120,000 for the Charity. What hasn’t changed is Farm Bureau’s commitment to Food Checkout Day and its mission to celebrate the healthy and nutritious food our farmers grow and raise.
Since the beginning of my tenure with Food Checkout Day, I’ve learned of both family and friends who have or are staying at a Ronald McDonald House while their child is receiving treatment. Like so many other families, they continue to support the House.
Some even support Food Checkout Day. Learn more about Food Checkout Day and Farm Bureau’s long standing partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilaw-Y6Rcq4. We’d like your support as well.