Sharon Kelly, aka ‘McMom’, recognized by Ronald McDonald House Charities

FERGUS – Sharon Kelly is being recognized by Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario for being an outstanding fundraiser.

She is one of six employees of McDonald’s restaurants across Canada to receive the recognition.

It’s hard to quantify how much money Kelly has raised.

The company ran McHappy days, where 50 per cent of sales that day would go to the Ronald McDonald House charity, but that stopped with COVID-19 and only resumed last year.

The restaurants instituted a “rounding up” campaign instead that runs year round.

If your order comes to $8.37, the server will ask if you’d like to round up to $9 and the change would go to the charity 

All employees do it, but Kelly has a knack for engaging with guests, explaining the charity, and is usually successful at having customers donate their change.

“It’s the way she asks,” explained general manager Akshdeep Kaur in an interview.

She noted Kelly raised $100 in a six-hour shift – all from these small, round-up donations.

“She doesn’t just ask if people want to round up. She explains where the money is going and how it will help families with very sick children,” said Kaur.

“People are learning the ‘why’ and that’s important.”

Ronald McDonald House is a charity funded largely by McDonald’s.

Located near children’s hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses provide accommodation and meals for out-of-town families who have a very sick child in hospital.

There are 16 houses in Canada and 17 Ronald McDonald Rooms.

The rooms don’t have sleeping quarters, but there are couches, a kitchen and they can be a quiet place for parents to recharge and siblings to be themselves in a non-medical setting.

Kelly has been with the Fergus McDonald’s for 19 years and has seen a lot of these campaigns.

She’d often hear from guests in the drive-thru that they had made use of a Ronald McDonald House when their child was sick and it was a godsend.

“I remember one man told me his daughter was at McMaster and he would sleep in his car – in winter – just to be close,” Kelly said.

“It was because of him that the Hamilton house decided to expand and add more rooms.

“I know people in Fergus have used it and that makes it personal for me.”

Kelly was invited to tour Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton last year, “and it’s a fantastic place,” she said.

It has 37 rooms, a kitchen and lounge area, and a playroom for siblings.

Volunteers prepare meals and also do laundry so families can attend to their sick child and don’t have to worry about anything else.

“It touched my heart to see it,” Kelly said.

“The best health care is family love and that’s what they do there – let families love their children and they take care of the rest.”

Kaur said the Fergus restaurant raised $2,149 in February and so far has raised $1,549 in March, just from rounding up.

“That’s not all me,” Kelly insisted.

“A lot of that is you,” Kaur interjected.

“Sharon will come in on her weekends off just to coach new trainees and make sure that (staff) are asking the right questions,” said Kaur.

“She’s helped everyone. They all call her ‘McMom.’”

The company had a video crew at the Fergus restaurant on March 13 to interview Kelly and hear her thoughts on her accomplishment.

 The video will be screened at an international McDonald’s convention in May and posted on the McDonald’s Canada website.

 Kelly tried to downplay her contribution, but Kaur could not give enough credit to Kelly.

“It’s a proud moment for me as general manager to see this,” she said.

“Sharon goes above and beyond and she’s a great role model.”

McHappy Days will return this year on May 10.