Share-a-night set to benefit Ronald McDonald House

Radio station listeners across southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee will have an opportunity to help folks who need a home away from home from Nov. 14-16.
   The First Ronald McDonald House Share-a-night Radiothon Campaign will be broadcast on radio stations throughout the Mountain Empire this weekend. The event hopes to raise funds to help the Ronald McDonald House provide for families of children in medical crisis. Many of these children are being treated at either The Children's Hospital or at the Regional Cancer Center/St. Jude-affiliated Regional Cancer Center, both at Johnson City Medical Center.
   The House asks for a nightly contribution of $10 from families who use the facility. "The average donation at this time is $4 per family," said Rowena Bailey, executive director at the House. "However, no one is turned away for inability to pay. It actually costs the House nearly $60 to house a family each night. These families have children in medical crisis and nowhere to stay." Bailey said the Ronald McDonald House is full nearly all the time, seven days a week.
   The House is totally dependent on fund-raisers to meet its budgetary needs each year. Since its opening in 1994, the facility has provided quarters for more than 6,000 persons from Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, Northeast Kentucky and Southern West Virginia.
   "The highest users of the House come from Wise County, Va.; Sullivan County (Kingsport); Washington County, Va.; Dickenson County, Va.; Greene County, Tenn.; Harlan County, Ky.; Johnson County, Tenn.; Tazewell County, Va.; Lee County, Va.; Smyth County, Va.; Carter County, Tenn.; Buchanan County, Va.; Russell County, Va.; Hawkins County, Tenn.; and Washington County, Tenn.," Bailey said.
   Many radio stations have joined the Share-a-night Radiothon event this weekend. Listeners will hear the messages broadcast on Citadel Broadcasting stations, WQUT-FM 101.5, WKOS-FM 104.9 (Oldies 104.9), WJCW-AM 910, WGOC-AM 640, WKIN-AM 1320; Bristol Broadcasting stations, which include, WXBQ-FM 96.9, WXBQ-AM 980, WPJO-FM 99.3, WAEZ-FM 94.9 (Electric 94.9); Holston Valley Broadcasting stations, WTFM-FM 98.5, WOPI-AM 1490, WKPT-AM 1400, 1490 and 1590, WRZK-FM 95.9, WMEV-FM 93.9 (FM 94 Super Country Rock); as well as WBEJ, Elizabethton. Participating radio stations in southwest Virginia include WLSD in Big Stone Gap, WXAM in Norton, WDIC in Clintwood, WCRR in Rural Retreat and WNRG in Grundy, where times may vary for call-in gifts and pledges.
   The many volunteers answering phones will be located at the Citi Commerce Solutions call center in Gray. "Without the support of Jeff Jones and his team at Citi Commerce Solutions, this event logistically could not take place," said Ed Herbert, Chairman of the Share-a-night Committee. Volunteers answering the calls come from the Kiwanis clubs of Big Stone Gap, Erwin, Jonesborough, Kingsport and Cosmo Kingsport; East Tennessee State University; Wellmont Lonesome Pine Hospital; Coldwell Banker Security Real Estate, Johnson City; Sprint; Citi Commerce Solutions; House Board members; and from Mountain States Health Alliance.
   Public service announcements are being donated from WEMT-TV Fox 39, WJHL-TV NewsChannel 11, WKPT-TV 19, CYB.WB 4 and Charter Communication. On Saturday, Nov. 22, WEMT-TV Fox 39 will broadcast a special one-hour recap of the Share-a-night Radiothon. Newspapers in the region are also promoting the Share-a-night Radiothon and printing stories from families who have utilized the House. The November Business Journal did a full-page feature on the Ronald McDonald House as well as a full-page ad for the radiothon. 
   Keeping the volunteers fed and energized will be a lot easier thanks to the generosity of many businesses. Meals are being supplied for volunteers from area McDonald's restaurants, Chick-Fil-A, Inc., both in Johnson City; Heavenly Ham of Johnson City; Olive Garden Italian Restaurant and The Peerless, both in Johnson City; and desserts are from Cow & Coffee, Atlanta Bread Co., Great American Cookies, Logan's Roadhouse, Cheddar's Casual Café, Cookie Banquet, all in Johnson City; snacks are coming from Red Lobster, Food City stores in Colonial Heights, Kingsport, at North Roan Street, and North State of Franklin, all in Johnson City; Ingles, North Roan Street, Boones Creek; Sam's Club and Wal-Mart, Johnson City. Drinks are being donated for volunteers by Coca-Cola, Pal's and Starbucks in Johnson City with ice supplied by Citi Commerce Solutions.
   Others supplies are being donated by I.J. Tri-Cities, Inc., cups, plates and utensils; Gourmet & Co., a gift basket.
   The Share-a-night Radiothon Campaign begins at 6 p.m. Friday and runs until 6 p.m. Sunday. Callers will be able to participate by calling toll-free 877-975-KIDS (5437). Whatever the gift, be it $10 to help for one night or $300 for one month, volunteers will be ready to help callers Share-a-night with the House. Callers may use credit cards, a check or make a pledge.
   "Donations will keep the Ronald McDonald House operating, providing accommodations for families with critically ill children. We couldn't do this without our wonderful volunteers," Bailey said, "and we hope our area will help share-a-night for the house that love built."