Ronald McDonald House Charities help families in need all over the world. The Hoss Foundation, founded by former NFL quarterback Jeff Hostetler and his wife, has been helping local families right here in West Virginia for more than 20 years. These two organizations team up around the holidays for their "Annual Night of Giving."
The Hoss Foundation's annual "Gift Project" has provided more than 7,000 gifts to about 1,100 people this year. This weeklong project makes its last stop at the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown to bring gifts to the families staying there.
"We have a homelike environment at the Ronald McDonald House, but then they get these gifts and then Christmas we cook dinner for them as well," said Steve De Jesus, RMHC Executive Director and CEO. "Just a lot of things to try to give them kind of a break from the stress for what's been going on at the hospital."
Jenessa Sutherland and her husband Justin know firsthand what that stress feels like. Their son was born on Saturday and had heart surgery Wednesday. They've been staying at the Ronald McDonald House to be close to him in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
"It makes it a lot easier you don't have so much on your mind not only money wise but just knowing that you have somewhere safe and comfortable to stay and the people here are real nice and they help you out," Sutherland said.
The Hostetlers bring gifts to the families to help them be able to celebrate the holidays even if they're not in the comfort of their own home. They make this their last stop because the situations hit home for the founders of the organization.
"This Ronald McDonald house kind of hits home for us because my wife and I with our three kids went through some of the things that the parents here are going through," said Jeff Hostetler, the founder of The Hoss Foundation. "Our firstborn had four major surgeries before he was 11 months old."
The families just appreciate someone showing that they care.
"It's just been amazing to me how much people really put out there," Sutherland said. "To know that this is all non-profit and volunteers and stuff like that... that people care that much to do stuff."
"That gives a lot of families hope and at this particular time, when you're going through those things, that's the only thing you can hang your hat on," Hostetler said.
WVU team players handed out gifts at the event.
The newest project from the Ronald McDonald House is the Family Room that they're putting into the hospital for the families of children who are too sick to make it across the street to the house.