Lessons from volunteering on McHappy Day

Have you ever bought yourself a Big Mac, you know… for the kids? It is a naughty sometimes-food indulgence that is easy to justify once a year during November on one particular date. McHappy Day is an important icon on the fundraising calendar of Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC), it drives a super-sized amount of fundraising for a very worthy cause.

So again this year I rolled up my sleeves, washed my hands, put on some gloves and got to work… for the kids.

RMHC keeps the families of seriously ill children together and close to the care their child needs. It is an extraordinary initiative, a powerful approach and a wonderful service that I hope my family never needs.

Hamburgers into happiness via McHappy Day. (Credit: Foodie Factor on Pexels.com)

I have toured the facilities, seen families that are hurting, met the passionate staff and amazing volunteers, had discussions with the region’s CEO and heard many positive stories. Every time I come into contact with RMHC it just makes me want to help.

So recently I ventured down to my local McDonald’s store, one of the busiest in our city. The SES were setup out the front, local sports stars and politicians were getting involved, balloons were everywhere and burgers were being bought like hotcakes… which incidentally were also being bought like hotcakes!

It was a hive of fast food fundraising.

In previous years I have found myself outside shaking buckets, rustling up donations, chatting to the locals and raising money in other such ways. This year, in 2019, I was ready to get greasy!

Remarkably, I believe I made around 300 Big Macs in under two hours. It was fast-paced, frantic work and I loved it. As I created the famous stacks of two all-beef patties I found myself having an observant look around, it became apparent I was surrounded by valuable life lessons.

RMHC keeps families close to young Australians who need support. (Credit: Daria Obymaha on Pexels.com)

Teamwork is terrific

The busy bees buzzing around behind the curtain of Maccas were like little magical fairies. When the burgers ran out, more would appear. When the nugget boxes were gone, more would appear. When the food needed to be tested, when their was a spill, when the hygiene gloves were too small, when I was thirsty, when the lettuce was gone, when someone ordered something fancy and customised then everything that was required would just appear. This does not happen without incredible teamwork. The store was seriously busy, it was borderline stressful, nevertheless the staff were having a great time. They had each other’s backs, there were teaching moments not blame games. They used their manners, they respected one another and they refused to let each other down – and it was contagious.

They had each other’s backs, there were teaching moments not blame games. They used their manners, they respected one another and they refused to let each other down – and it was contagious.

Leadership is legendary

The hardest working staff during my short sample size of hands-on experience were undeniably the McDonald’s team leaders and store managers. Setting an example and doing things right is exactly what leadership is all about and it was on display, everywhere. Kids as young as 15-years-old were looking up to these workplace leaders (who themselves were only in their early twenties), asking questions and emulating their work-ethic. When the place got busier the leaders worked harder, supporting their teams and overseeing all in their jurisdiction. I was loving it.

Efficiency is everything

McDonald’s have been world leaders in efficiency for decades, for my entire life. This is no secret. The driving force pushing their unrelenting quest for the fastest food, is profits. This is no secret either. However, when you are an outsider, seeing the well-oiled machine in action for the first time, the profit-spinning jigsaw pieces fall into place and light bulbs go off. Absolutely everything at McDonald’s is designed around getting customers served ASAP. Our store was setup divided down the middle, ingredients could be accessed via team members along either side of a central work bench which kept the meat safe and hot. Everything you could possibly need to construct a Maccas’ burger was within easy reach including meat, salad, packaging and condiments. I was quickly smashing out the Big Macs after just 30-seconds of training, not because I am so smart but because the system itself is so clever.

McDonald’s raises funds for RMHC every year via McHappy Day efforts across Australia. (Credit: Keli Santos on Pexels.com)

Work ethic wins

Watching young workers getting shit done is inspiring. It made me proud to be an Australian. It made me hopeful for these employees and their futures. I was excited about what they might grow into, what they might contribute to our country. Maybe I got a little carried away there, but it was indeed a rare sight. If you chat to any business owner across our country they will tell you that “kids these days” don’t want to work hard. It is bloody difficult to find good employees. Well there I was, surrounded by young Aussies working their asses off. There is no substitute for work ethic, I wanted to pat each one of them on the back and explain that I was impressed, that I felt they would do well in life – but that would have been extremely creepy.

It made me proud to be an Australian. It made me hopeful for these employees and their futures. I was excited about what they might grow into, what they might contribute to our country.

Giving is good

Although I sometimes felt more like a liability than a contributing member of the team, I was sincerely thanked for my efforts, which was nice. And I did try and do the best job I could in the short time I was volunteering. But in all honesty I was grateful to them for letting me help. Giving your time has a more lasting personal effect than giving money. Gaining an experience with my own stories to tell as a result of spending time to help out has been wonderful. Both of my kids came to visit during my McHappy Day shift, they saw me making burgers and were full of questions for days afterwards. They were proud of their Dad which is just the BEST THING EVER from my perspective.

Volunteering has value

My time and efforts did assist in raising funds for RMHC, I was pumping out those Big Macs at a rapid rate once I got the hang of things. My free labour allowed other employees to be of value in other areas of the store’s operations. I have volunteered my time for other causes in the past and the results have been rather hit and miss, so when a successful win/win scenario eventuates it is well worth writing about. My time volunteering at McHappy Day has me thinking about what other organisations could benefit from my time, where else (or when else) could my time and effort have maximum value? Who else can I help?

Which other organisations should Downunder Dad volunteer for?
Simply comment below.

McHappy Day was much more interesting in the kitchen than it was outside shaking a bucket. I was in a very positive mood afterwards and really cannot speak highly enough of the staff at McDonald’s that looked after me that day. I was proud of what we achieved and I love that more affected families will be able to spend more nights together, when they need each other most.

All I did was “flip burgers” for an hour or two, the real heroes are working tirelessly and passionately from within the foundation itself. To donate or volunteer or just to learn more about the incredible work being done by RMHC in your local area then simply click here.

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