TEMPLE — Carrying six large boxes of donated new toys, a group of high school students from Killeen hoped to spread a bit of cheer to families facing troubling circumstances during the holidays.
For teacher Jessica Robin, the delivery Dec. 10 to the Ronald McDonald House in Temple was the eighth annual Business Professionals of America project and the most personal.
In August, her own twins were born prematurely. When one ended up at Scott & White Hospital’s newborn intensive care unit while the other was at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, Robin found herself at a familiar doorstep.
“I stayed here and didn’t have to go back and forth,” she said. “I was very grateful in a time of need this facility was here. Everyone here is wonderful.”
The 11 students from the Killeen ISD Career Center toured the 18-bedroom home, learning the mingling stories of heartbreak and triumph posted in the form of photos of children on the hallway walls.
Ronald McDonald House provides refuge for family members of patients receiving care at the nearby Scott & White hospitals. A large kitchen, living areas, toy room and laundry facilities allow families a “home away from home” without cost.
Ellison High School senior Amber Slaughter coordinated the project for the BPA chapter and used it as her Leadership Academy senior project as well.
“I think it’s sweet what they do here,” she said, “and they don’t expect recognition for it.”
The business students, from various Killeen Independent School District high schools as well as the Career Center all have part-time jobs in addition to their full academic loads. Still, they found time to give back.
They set out donation boxes at their schools and in some cases their work sites. Some teachers dropped a low grade in exchange for a toy donation.
After delivering the toys and taking a tour, the students received work assignments and got busy vacuuming and cleaning toys, kitchen counters, the refrigerator and the shelves of food.
The high school students also baked cookies for the current residents occupying eight of the bedrooms.
“I love how homey it is,” Slaughter said. “They care for the residents like a mother would during a rough time.”
“It feels like home,” said Kay Robertson, an Ellison senior. “They can be here with family and with others who are like them.”
“This is great because these students help us get the house ready for Christmas,” said Susan Bolton, executive director for the Temple Ronald McDonald House. “They help us get it all spiffy.”
“It absolutely brings a new perspective,” said Robin, just four months after residing at the house. She said she expected the students to conduct a food drive to benefit the house in the spring.