Of hearts and stripes

Many of us have seen the coin boxes placed near the cash registers in McDonald’s restaurants. But few know of how its collections have gone a long way in helping children in need. “Generally, people tend to underestimate the impact they can make by just dropping some small change into these coin boxes,” said the newly elected President of the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Malaysia, Victor Sim. RMHC is a non-profit organisation founded over 40 years ago. It now has more than 300 chapters all over the world.

Here in Malaysia, RMHC was established in February 1990, which makes 2015 its 25th year in the country. RMHC Malaysia is independently run by a board of committee members and its activities are governed by RMHC’s global initiative. Its mission is to create, find and support programmes that directly improve the wellbeing of Malaysian children in the areas of health, education and welfare. Over the years, RMHC Malaysia has contributed more than RM11 million in reaching out to over 20,000 children. A big chunk of that sum comes from the spare change that goes into the RMHC coin boxes at McDonald’s restaurants.

“McDonald’s has a longstanding commitment in giving back to the communities in which we serve. One of the main ways that we achieve this is through our partnership with RMHC, our charity of choice. Over the years, we are humbled by the impact that RMHC has made on children in need, as well as their families,” said McDonald’s Malaysia managing director Stephen Chew.


In 1999, the ASEAN region welcomed its first Ronald McDonald House (RMH) right here in Malaysia. Known as a house for paediatric child patients and their families, especially those from outstation and the underprivileged; RMH is a home away from home that enables families to find support from other families in similar situations. The home is situated within the grounds of Pusat Perubatan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (PPUKM), which makes it very convenient for both parents and the children undergoing medical treatment. Since its inception, more than 600 families whose children are seeking treatment at PPUKM and other government hospitals in Klang Valley have benefited from this facility, costing some RM4.5 million in running costs. Upcoming plans on the drawing table include the setting up of more of such “houses” which will require partnering with like-minded hospitals such as PPUKM.


RMHC “Gift of Smile” has helped over 350 kids (including Shakteesh Loganathan) with cleft lip and cleft palate at no charge since the launch of the programme 11 years ago. Considered to be a birth defect, this condition develops during the early stages of a mother’s pregnancy. If left untreated, a child with this defect will lack confidence which will further decline as he or she will have slurred speech and communication problems. To sign up, parents may fill up a form at RMHC’s website.


The sensory room aids children with delayed mental development with special multi-sensory equipment designed to stimulate the five senses. These include visual, hearing, touch, smell and taste, along with balance and movement. To date, there are 21 such centres across the country, including East Malaysia.


Every year, RMHC selects over 80 secondary school children from low income families, who have excellent academic results and are active in school for its scholarship programme. Carried out with the cooperation of the Education Ministry, the students receive monetary support throughout their secondary education. To date, more than 500 students have benefited from this programme.