Impact of Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House Around the World

I have a soft spot for families with a medically fragile child because I had a sibling with special needs.

When I was offered the opportunity to tour the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati, I was excited to learn more about how they are serving families with critically ill children coming to the area from all over the world.

You may or may not know that Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House is the second largest Ronald McDonald House in the world!

As someone who grew up in the Cincinnati Metro and moved back, I have a greater appreciation for this gem in our community that is a beacon for so many families during their darkest time.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati

This article is written in partnership with Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House. All opinions are my own.

Brother with special needs next to sister

During my childhood, my brother had several extended stays at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital over the years.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

We were fortunate that we lived in Northern Kentucky only 20 minutes away from the hospital and we also had relatives live with us for extended periods while their child was in treatment.

Other families with medically fragile children were not as fortunate as us to have world-class healthcare within such close proximity to where they live.

For many families that means traveling from many states away and for some even traveling to Cincinnati from other parts of the world.

entrance to RMHC of Greater Cincinnati

A Safe Haven For Families With Medically Fragile Kids

We are blessed to have two of the largest RMHs in the same state of Ohio that are located within a few hours of each other.

The Ronald McDonald House provides free lodging with the comforts of home for families with a child undergoing medical treatment.

For families with a child with special medical needs, their child’s treatment comes first and lodging comes secondary.

The Ronald McDonald House helps take care of the financial burden and logistical burden of arranging lodging and meals for extended stays. The lodging, meals, and amenities of the home help provide a sense of normalcy and routine during a stressful time.

The RMH provides a safe place for families to have respite and take a breath in a community of compassion with other families who “get it” without ever having to say a word.

I fought back my emotions at multiple points during my tour. I observed the thoughtful amenities for the families to feel more at home and the love and connection between families, staff, and volunteers through their interactions.

It’s beautiful and heartbreaking to witness especially if you’re a parent. It also makes me so proud that RMH is available for families who have to travel to Cincinnati for their child’s care.

The Ronald McDonald House is located next to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center which makes it a convenient location, a very short walk for guest families with a child who has an extended stay.

RMHC Greater Cincinnati

Who Does the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati Serve?

Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House welcomes any family who has a child aged 21 or younger who is receiving medical treatment (inpatient or outpatient) at Cincinnati Children’s or other area hospitals.

Families must live more than 40 miles away, but that requirement is waived if a family has a child in an ICU (ICU, NICU, PICU, etc.).

Siblings are also welcome, as are visitors to support the patient. The complete eligibility guidelines are available at

hallway at Cincinnati's Ronald McDonald House

Is There a Fee For Families to Stay at Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House?

There is no fee required for families to stay at the Cincinnati RMH thanks to corporate and individual donations. Guests can also make a donation for their stay but they are under no obligation to do so.

Cincinnati RMH also works with families to check if their medical insurance or Medicaid will pay for their stay.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

There is free parking available for guests staying at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House onsite.

Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati

Image courtesy of Cincinnati’s RMH

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Stay at Cincinnati’s RMH Vs. a Short-Term Stay at RMH

Families can request the type of stay that best fits their needs during their visit.

room at Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House
Image courtesy of Cincinnati’s RMH

Regular Stay Room at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

Regular Stay Rooms are for families in need of a room for over four nights or more. There is a waiting list for regular stay rooms due to room availability.

For example, in 2022, a family stayed an average of 27 nights at RMH which saved families a lot of money because they avoided the cost of paying for overnight stays.

Families can apply for a regular room up to 30 days before their scheduled appointment at Cincinnati Children’s or other qualifying area hospitals.

When a family is placed in a room, they will be eligible to live in that room for up to two years, as long as the criteria to stay in the RMH are met.

RMH can only provide one room per family and they have a maximum capacity for each room due to fire codes. The maximum number of people per room is dependent on the size of the room. The occupancy size of the rooms ranges from 2 to 6 people.

There are patient-protected wings and transplant suites for guests who are immunocompromised.

room at Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House
Image courtesy of Cincinnati’s RMH

Short-Term Stay Rooms at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

A short-term room at RMH is ideal for families that need to return to Cincinnati for a scan or a check-up. There are 25 short-term rooms at Cincinnati RMH.

Families can book a stay of up to four nights one month in advance here.

Short-term stay rooms can be booked for 1, 2, 3, or 4 nights, depending on availability.

These rooms include access to all of the same features as their regular rooms and can be booked 30 days in advance of your appointment date.

Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House
Image courtesy of Cincinnati’s RMH

Misconceptions About Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

Every Ronald McDonald House runs differently based on their needs.

A misconception of being named “Ronald McDonald House” is that it’s assumed that McDonald’s primarily funds the home and all of the food for guests is from McDonald’s.

mural at Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House

Fact: When you round up your order at a local participating McDonald’s in the Cincinnati metro that donation goes directly to RMH.

Fact: The footprint, expenses, daily operations costs, and needs for RMH have continued to grow beyond a singular corporate donor.

Fact: The food at RMH is donated by many private individuals and organizations.

Family Kitchen at RMH Cincinnati

Guest Family Kitchen at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House has a fully stocked kitchen with cooking appliances and utensils for families to use during their stay.

RMH serves 2 meals a day for guests or they can have meals boxed up.

Meals for Families at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

  • Lunch and dinner
  • Brunch Sunday – dinner
  • Snack time

Guests With Special Dietary Needs

Families can discuss their dietary needs with the culinary team. There are also Gluten-free and Kosher options available for families to use.

refrigerators at RMH

There are communal refrigerators with staple items like milk, orange juice, eggs, yogurt, and more, depending upon donations.

The communal pantry is stocked with basic non-perishable food for guests to use too.

family food lockers at RMH

Guests can grab meals from the refrigerators and each family has its own small kitchen cabinet for dry food, as well as a common refrigerator/freezer space with a marked basket.

dining area RMH Cincinnati

There is a coffee station on every floor for guests to use during their stay and their vending machines have Coke products for under $1. These vending machines are the only things that cost money for family staying at Ronald McDonald House.

craft room RMH

Additional Common Spaces at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

Several common spaces are available for families to use during their stay.

game room at Cincinnati RMH

The area near the game room and the indoor playground has viewing windows.

game area for kids at Cincinnati RMH

Parents can monitor their kids while also getting an opportunity to connect with other parents who are on similar journeys with their critically ill child.

indoor playground at RMH

Kids can also burn off extra energy in a safe environment.

outdoor playground at RMH

The outdoor playground is also fenced-in for kids to enjoy when the weather is good.

common area at Cincinnati RMH

Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House also has weekly activities, a craft room, computers, WIFI, and laundry facilities available for guests.

The common spaces also have a lot of natural light which is really nice, especially on a gloomy weather day.

child at toy closet at RMH
Image courtesy of Cincinnati’s RMH

You Can Help Restock the Toy Closet at Cincinnati’s RMH

Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House needs toy donations year-round.

Each child at RMH gets a ticket for a toy of their choice from the Toy Closet. This includes siblings of the patient who are also staying at RMH.

The Toy Closet is also used for guests during their birthdays.

Donations for the toys need to be brand new and unopened. If you have kids at home, think about the types of toys that your kids like to play with and ask for on birthdays and holidays.

It’s also better to purchase 1 nice name-brand gift in the $20- $25 range for a child vs. multiple generic gifts.

For example, it’s better to have 1 real Barbie doll vs. several knockoff dolls to equal the price of one Barbie doll.

If you need additional ideas you can check out the RMH wishlist.

Around the holidays families can shop for gifts for their kids. They can wrap the gifts or get them wrapped.

meals for families in RMH

Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House

RMH Relies on the Cincinnati Community for volunteers

The RMH is open 365 days a year and relies on volunteers in the Cincinnati community to keep it running.

This is a great opportunity to represent our city and help create a safe place for families during their stay.

“Thank you for smiling at me when I couldn’t smile back” – RMH guest

For many families, the volunteers and staff they encounter will be their greatest impression of Cincinnati.


What is the Regular Volunteer Commitment at RMH?

If you want to volunteer at RMH regularly there are opportunities as a Guest Services Volunteer.

  • There are opportunities to volunteer from 7 AM – 11 PM, seven days a week.
  • GSVs commit to a minimum of two shifts per month for nine months.
  • All regularly scheduled volunteers must be 21 years of age or older unless over the age of 13 and volunteering with a parent.
  • A background check is required for volunteers.
  • They work closely with all applicants to find a day, time, and position that will work best.
  • The volunteer onboarding process includes an interview, an orientation, and training before your first shift. This process can take four or more weeks to complete.

Additional Volunteer Opportunities at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

If you’re unable to volunteer at RMH regularly there are still other ways that you can volunteer and make a difference.

cutting vegetables

Make a Meal at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

 Taste of Hope Meals

  • The ideal group size to prepare and serve a meal is 6-8 volunteers, although they welcome groups of 4 to 10 people.  *Children under 16 are not permitted in the kitchen.
hot chocolate bar

Make a Snack or Host a Treat Time at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House

 You can book Snack or Treat Time with a small group of people.

Snack Time

Volunteer with up to four people to prepare healthy “grab-and-go” snacks for guest families living in the RMH. 

*Ages 16 or older may volunteer, but there must be one adult 18 years or older in your group of four.

ice cream bar

Treat Time

During Treat Time up to eight individuals can bring all the necessary (and creative!) items to host a hot chocolate bar, an ice cream bar, or a popcorn bar! 

*Ages 10 and older may volunteer, but all minors must be accompanied by at least one adult 18 years or older. 


Donate Quilts to Ronald McDonald House

Quilts can help bring comfort to guest families and be a memento that they treasure from their time spent at the House after they return home.

Donated quilts are for children ranging from babies to young adults. The quilt sizes range from 40″ x 40″ to twin size and must be cotton and machine sewn and bound.

Please note that they don’t use religious themes for the quilts because families come from around the world.

toiletries at store

You Can Purchase Items on the RMH Wish List

RMH can only accept new and unopened items due to the immune-compromised situation of their guest children.

You can shop the RMH Wish List on Amazon and the items will be shipped directly to RMH or use it as a resource for the wish list needs.

trash bags

What Are the Top Five Requested Items for Donations at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House?

The House needs the same items that you need to run your house—just a lot more of them! While the most urgent needs change throughout the year, right now, the biggest needs are:

  • Individually packaged snacks
  • Toiletries (all sizes of shampoo, body wash, deodorant, etc.)
  • Cereal boxes & individual serving boxes
  • 13-gallon trash bags
  • Feminine care products
Pop top collection at RMH in Cincinnati

Pop Tabs for Ronald McDonald House

In the atrium of the RMH, there is a collection area for pop tabs. RMH receives $1 a pound for the pop tabs to help with operations costs.

Cincinnati's Ronald McDonald House

When Can You Drop Off Donations at Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House?

The Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House accepts donations from 9 AM – 9 PM daily.

RMHC of Greater Cincinnati sign

Where is the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati Located?

The Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati is located at 341 Erkenbrecher Ave, Cincinnati, OH, right next to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Find More Information About Volunteering at RHM Cincinnati

You can find more information about all of the volunteer opportunities that are available on RMH Cincinnati’s website.

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