McHappy Day: How you can support Kiwi kids and families in need by eating a Big Mac

McDonald's meals can bring happiness to many little faces across the motu, but to put smiles on the dials of more Kiwi kids, the Ronald McDonald House needs funds to support its life-changing work with New Zealand families - which is where we come in.

On Saturday, November 4, McDonald's will commemorate 'McHappy Day' for another year to raise much-needed funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities New Zealand (RMHC) and its mission to keep families of hospitalised children together.  

To help support the cause, all you need to do is enjoy a Big Mac - yes, really - and Macca's will do the rest, donating $1 from every Big Mac sold towards RMHC.   

In the 10 days leading up to McHappy Day, customers can also opt for a $1 McHappy Day sticker or round up their order at the kiosk machines.  

McDonald's is aiming to raise $500,000 over the 10-day campaign, which equates to 3000 nights of free accommodation for families staying at RMHC houses. Last year, McHappy Day raised over $270,000, the equivalent of about 1500 nights of accommodation for families with a child hospitalised away from home.  

McDonald's franchisees, crew and customers collectively raise more than $1.5 million for RMHC New Zealand each year - funds that go towards supporting people like Abby Wilson and her four-year-old daughter Ellise, who needed a place to land when their world turned upside-down.

Four months ago, young Ellise and her family were flown from Tauranga to Auckland's Starship Hospital after the four-year-old was diagnosed with an 8.5cm by 8.5cm brain tumour.  

As the family waited for Ellise's neurosurgery, they found themselves at RMHC accommodation for the first time. Speaking to The Project ahead of the campaign, Wilson said coming home to friendly faces, cooked meals, a supportive community and around-the-clock help "really took a load off" amid their life-altering circumstances.  

Wilson said the playground in particular was invaluable for her daughter, who had to learn to walk again after her surgery.   

"She can get out there and play like a normal, healthy child and she learnt to walk and use the right side of her body again," she said.

The playground at the Auckland accommodation
The playground at the Auckland accommodation helped Ellise to re-learn to walk post-surgery. Photo credit: Ronald McDonald House Charities NZ

Ellise, who is currently halfway through a seven-week course of daily radiotherapy, is now once again using the accommodation with her mum while she undergoes treatment, with her dad and brother visiting on weekends.    

The number of families with hospitalised children who require accommodation support continues to grow and to accommodate this, RMHC needs to expand in existing locations and continue to build new facilities.  

"The ability for us to be able to help relieve stress for families who are already dealing with so much is priceless," said Wayne Howett, CEO of RMHC New Zealand.  

"Providing support and a place to sleep near our main hospitals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch is what we do, including organising family meals and providing a friendly ear to listen on tough days.   

"It's really exciting to have McHappy Day back for another year in New Zealand and the money raised will be a huge help to our people around the country and the families they support."  

Speaking to The Project, Wilson added that Ellise is happy to stay in the accommodation during her treatment as it "now feels like home".   

The following restaurants will be holding in-store activations including entertainment and special guest appearances throughout McHappy Day on November 4:  

  • Greenlane, Auckland  
  • Princess Street, Palmerston North  
  • Sydenham, Christchurch  
  • Cnr High St and Raroa Road, Lower Hutt  
  • Frankton, Hamilton.  

McDonald's New Zealand has been supporting RMHC New Zealand since it was first established as an independent charity in 1989. While McDonald's is RMHC's mission partner, the charity operates independently and receives funding from a range of sources.