Five years ago, the Central Visual Merchandising Group began working with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) to decorate New York City’s Ronald McDonald House for Christmas. What began as one house quickly became 24 homes across the country, and this year grew to 38 homes decorated for the holidays.
This year, Macy’s Associates in more than 30 cities came together to share holiday spirit with families spending their holidays at Ronald McDonald houses as their sick children receive treatment at nearby hospitals. This festive gesture is exactly what the holidays are about at Macy’s – coming together to bring joy and magic directly to communities, and we are proud of our 578 Associates who volunteered.
To learn more about this touching holiday initiative, we spoke with Lance Harder, VP, merchandise execution & visual communication, who manages the national initiative.
I have been volunteering to decorate the New York City Ronald McDonald House for a few years. It was always the Partners in Time event I looked forward to most. When I began managing the national initiative in 2016, it was my goal to expand the reach of this annual tradition. Today, I work with visual captains across the country to decorate more than 30 homes.
The visual captains love this give back opportunity and really drive the initiative. They begin by reaching out to local homes in early fall. We try to visit as many homes as we can on or around the National Day of Giving, a global day dedicated to giving back on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
The visual teams are creative and savvy so they find things to help make each home shine brighter. We also work with our Visual vendor community, who generously donate lights, garland or other holiday elements to make the homes sparkle. Some vendors create custom elements. This year, FAO Schwarz donated a huge, stuffed teddy bear that the staff and kids in the New York City house loved!
We also love working with the staff at Ronald McDonald House. They are so appreciative and so welcoming. You feel like you are part of the family when you are there. It’s always big smiles and hugs when we are done.
Each volunteer gets a sense of what our efforts mean to the kids and their families. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a child’s eyes light up when they walk into the Macy’s Living Room to see it transformed into a holiday wonderland. Knowing that for one moment, you can help the child or family member forget their current reality puts everything into perspective.
There are a lot of special memories, but one that really stands out is when the New York City Ronald McDonald House wanted to put a large, decorated tree on top of the entryway a few years ago. It took a team of 15 volunteers – and the Ronald McDonald House engineer – all working together to hoist it up and position it into place! The camaraderie that this event brings is incredibly special.