Community supports Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA


For more than 30 years, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania has been helping seriously ill children and their families. Its Ronald McDonald House, which sits just across the street from Penn State Hershey Medical Center, provides families with hope, and a place to stay.

Tomorrow night, hundreds will gather for the Moonlight Gala. It’s a benefit to raise money for the home, which operates on donations and volunteers, and helps families through some of the toughest times.


“When he’s healthy, he’s okay. He doesn’t need supplemental oxygen.  But, the smallest cold kinda brings him down enough that he’s on oxygen,” says Emmy Sasala. Her son Van has down syndrome, and he’s been in and out of Penn State Hershey Medical Center for treatments and surgeries for associated complications.

One of those complications– Tracheomalasia.  It’s a condition that leaves Van struggling to find oxygen as his airways become restricted. When Van has to stay at the medical center for treatments or surgeries, his brother Lax is always by his side.

“Van would just light up. Even though he wasn’t feeling that well, and he had cords everywhere, we would sit Lax in the hospital bed with him when it was allowed and appropriate, and there was a lot of healing power to it,” adds Sasala.

But having his brother Lax by his side wasn’t always easy.  He and his family live in York, and the drive, coupled with the stress of Van’s treatments and surgeries, proved to be taxing.

Sasala remembered a nurse mentioning the Ronald McDonald House. “And knowing he was having surgery and gonna be in the hospital a few days, I looked online, and researched it a little bit.”

Emmy, like many others who check into the Ronald McDonald House, are surprised to learn they can stay at the house free of charge, for as long as their child is a patient. The only requirement is that they live more than 30 minutes away from the medical center.  Last year alone, 900 families slept at the house across from the center. For those families, it’s a home away from home.

“Besides just staying here, the meals that are provided, we really find are beneficial because it gave us that chance to come out.  It’s kinda a gathering time for families.  That meal time, when people are coming, and taking a break, and just coming to see that we’re all in it together. And it kinda gives us hope,” says Sasala.

“Some of the families will show up here and it’s not in their plan to be away from home for so many days. Some show up, and they don’t even have a change of clothing with them,” says Ann Hughes, the executive director of Ronald McDonald Charities of Central Pennsylvania.

Thanks to community donations, that is never a problem. Besides clothing, there are rooms upon rooms of donations. Among the items, food that volunteers cook and serve up every evening for the folks staying here.

“And a team of volunteers making the meals are strangers.  They’re taking their time out of their lives to support somebody that they don’t know, but they know need it, and it’s appreciated,” says Sasala.

Ann Hughes adds, “There are other donated items. Cleaning supplies, and toiletries that volunteers pre-sort, and organize.” There’s another room filled with toys. Everything is donated, and given to patients and their siblings when they arrive at the home.

It’s a magical place, run by 315 volunteers, and off of donations from the community.

“It’s interesting, because sometimes you don’t even realize the impact you’re having on a family. You simplify it, and say all they did was provide them with a bed for one night. But that one night might have been the worst night of their life,” says Hughes.


To learn more about Ronald McDonald Charities of Central Pennsylvania, or to donate or volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, click here.


U.S. Supreme Court rules against handgun straw purchases


By, Heather Warner

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that gun buyers must disclose when they are buying a gun for someone else.

The 5-4 decision backs a federal gun control law against these so-called “straw purchases.”

The case involved a Virginia man who illegally told a gun dealer he was the “actual buyer,” then sold the weapon to his uncle in Pennsylvania, who was also allowed to legally own a gun.

The ruling means gun buyers must disclose any intent to resell at the time of purchase.


Raise age to buy cigarettes to 21?



Teen smokers who can legally buy cigarettes in New York, may soon be out of luck.  A city council proposal would raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.

A vote on this proposal is expected sometime this fall. The idea behind it is to stop more people from ever trying to smoke. However, the surgeon general says about 90 percent of smokers have already started by the age of 18.

There are other critics who say raising the smoking age would hurt small businesses and cost the city tax revenue.Do you think this could do what it’s intended to do? Good idea?To read more on the efforts to raise the age limit, click here.


Utah teen on board derailed Spain train; “I’ve been kept alive for a reason”


The last thing Elder Stephen Ward remembers is flying sideways out of his seat.

The 18-year-old Mormon from Bountiful, Utah, was on his way to the Spanish town where he was planning to start two years of missionary work when the train he was riding in derailed as it went around a sharp curve.

One minute, he was writing in his journal. The next, he was covered in blood.

Ward was one of scores of people injured in Wednesday’s deadly crash.

“We had been going around some pretty sharp turns. We finally came to one more sharp turn, and the train, like, completely lifted up,” he said. “It was leaning sideways. It felt like a roller coaster.”

Elder Stephen Ward says he hopes to resume his missionary service after he recuperates.

For a few seconds, Ward thought to himself, “Well, this is kind of weird.”

Others around him seemed puzzled but not alarmed. Then, he says, the other set of wheels left the rails.

To read the entire story, click here.