By Todd Martin

Killeen Independent School District

TEMPLE — Stepping through the spacious Temple house, some Ellison High School students thought life at the Ronald McDonald House might be pretty good.

Reality set in as they paused, during a tour of the facility, to look at a bulletin board packed with photos, mostly of children and many taken at nearby Scott & White Hospital.

The photos of hand-sized prematurely born babies and children undergoing cancer treatment made real the mission of the McDonald House, to be a home away from home for families temporarily in Central Texas for pediatric medical care.

Thirty Ellison students in the Business Professionals of America chapter delivered and decorated four Christmas trees, unloaded a large haul of donated food, and went to work cleaning and organizing storage areas during an annual service project on Wednesday.

Alisha Williams, an Ellison senior and president of the BPA, was one of the few taking part in the service project for the second time. She said it was a rewarding effort both times.

“I like being able to help,” Williams said. “The staff and volunteers here work hard and they remember us from past years. We don’t want the guests here to have to worry about taking care of a house.”

A year ago, she recalled, the Ellison students happened to be decorating the Ronald McDonald House as a guest was walking through. “We met a resident last year and they were really thankful. They seemed content with what they had and it made me appreciate what I have.”

The 18-bedroom house in Temple covers 23,000 square feet with multiple kitchens and living spaces, a community boardroom, play areas, and an outside playground. Families with children at Scott & White can stay as long as they need to for $10 a night, though some stay for less or nothing at all as long as there is space.

Students decorated the lobby of the house for the holidays and brought boxes of snacks and other requested food items. They also spent time organizing shelves and clearing out a storage room.

Susan Bolton, executive director for the house said the student help was hugely appreciated. She noted that the Ellison group was a consistent supporter and the students showed maturity as they labored out of love for others.

“We like to do this,” said senior Jon Upton. “We can go into the community in Killeen and in other places like this. The BPA is like a family. It’s nice to do something like this together.”

Upton, who said he is already a certified paramedic, thrives on helping others and lending a hand. He was impressed with the charitable mission of the Temple house.

“The house is amazing, what they do for people,” he said. “It’s amazing to see this.”

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