Stacey Hatton - A penny for your thoughtlessness

08/02/2013 12:00 AM

08/01/2013 11:33 AM

As I was idling in the McDonald’s drive-through waiting for my caffeine fix, I was in one of my giving moods.

I know it may sound odd, but I usually feel charitable at this franchise. And no, it’s not because my endorphins are about to motor up, turning me into Santa Claus minus a few chin hairs, but their little box of caring always brightens my day. I know — nerd alert!

When I order my beverage I routinely hand over more cash than I’m charged. I can’t drive up to the window, stop, pull out my readers to find the exact change in my wallet, and then move forward in a prompt fashion. Therefore, I hand over bills or bigger coins I can still see.

Since I have vertically challenged arms, I asked the employee at the window to drop my change into the Ronald McDonald House donation bin below the drive-through window. I’ve done this for years and nary a problem.

Until that Tuesday.

My order total came to $1.09 and I handed the cashier $1.10. Apparently, a dime popped into my hand and I recognized the shape by feel.

“Can you please put the penny in the Ronald McDonald House bin?” I asked, feeling bad since I was barely tipping.

“Harrumph,” responded the cashier.

That was rude. I guess he noticed I was cheap today!

Then right before I pressed on the gas pedal, I saw from the corner of my eye “Honest Abe” take the penny out of the drawer, pretend to drop it in the donation box, but then he put it in his pocket!

A penny.

One cent!

How bad off do you have to be to steal a penny? I immediately felt pity for Mr. McStealy Pants — right before I reported it to the manager.

Then I thought, he didn’t take one cent from his place of business (not that it would make it right). He stole it from the Ronald McDonald House! A wonderful charity that provides for families whose children are hospitalized with chronic or terminal diseases.

Many years ago when I worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House was an amazing respite for out-of-town families dealing with life-altering situations. With these facilities, parents could periodically get a hot meal, take a shower, do some laundry and have a bed to sleep in — all for free.

Some of these families had children who were hospitalized for weeks or months. Many parents couldn’t afford a long-term hotel and they didn’t want to be far from their child. Who would?

These family don’t have to worry about hospitality services hanks to Ronald McDonald houses and people who donate time and money. That includes regular folks who drop spare change into donation bins at the golden arches.

According to the Kansas City chapter of Ronald McDonald House website at, “Small change dropped in donation boxes helped raise more than $28 million last year in the U.S.”

That’s no chump change.

In addition to money that’s raised at several annual events, the organization has wish lists for food and paper items, linens, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and office supplies.

They also need volunteers to help at front desks, provide assistance to families, help with light housekeeping, general hospitality and some maintenance. They need people or groups to cook meals for the families of the hospitalized children, as well.

I have not returned to that McDonald’s since the Great Penny Heist of 2013.

But I know every cent does matter, so I’ll continue to spread the word.

And next time I’m in the drive-through, I’m going to stop my car, reach out my stubby arm, and chuck my own change into that box!


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