Giving To Charity Never Smelled So Sweet

Every year as the holidays approach I try to think of some ways that our family can give back. We are so fortunate and privileged, and it's essential that our children grow up knowing that. Throughout the year we try to instil a sense of gratitude in our kids and actively help in our community where we can, but the holidays are a great time to reinforce this giving mentality. Whether it's small local initiatives or larger charitable organizations, we always pick a few to support. I often include these giving activities in our Christmas Countdown Calendar, interspersed with little gifts, treats and holiday family events.

So on December 1st I was very excited for the kids to open their calendar. Ben (who is an excellent reader) peeled open the envelope and as he read the card his eyes lit up and huge smile came across his face. The card said "We're taking a family trip to Great Wolf Lodge!!! While we're there we will be dining in a real gingerbread house, and making a donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities to help families with sick children." Ben had heard myths of Great Wolf Lodge from friends and family, and desperately wanted to go, so this was huge for him. I don't think the kids fully understood the life size gingerbread house part, and honestly I think they thought I was lying to them, but they seemed very excited and curious to see it. Penny, on the other hand just wanted to eat the envelope ;)

When we arrived we were all in awe. The gingerbread house was absolutely gorgeous and the kids were mesmerized by it. Made with over 1200 eggs, 666 lbs of flour, 5 lbs of ginger powder and 40 Litres of Molasses (just to name a few ingredients), plus 165 lbs of candy, it's an impressive structure. The house takes over 700 hours to plan and make, and baking begins each year in September. Inside the house there is a working fireplace and a train running around the top of it. Plus the smell...oh the smell, it's absolutely incredible. It's like sitting in Christmas. The only issue was that Lucy wanted to eat the whole thing!

If you're headed to Great Wolf Lodge for their Snowland Event this holiday season I highly recommend checking out the 10th annual Gingerbread house. By giving a $20 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities, families can reserve this special table for a meal during their stay. It books up fast, so be sure to contact the resort in advance, or reserve online, because virtually every kid wants to eat in it once they see it. Our kids wanted to eat EVERY meal in it! 

I feel so fortunate to have 3 healthy children, but I know that their health can change at any time and I never want to take that for granted. Having a critically or chronically ill child is one of every parent's worst nightmares. Ronald McDonald House Charities provide incredible support for families with ill children around the world. Most of us have heard of their "home away from home" housing for families with hospitalized children, but I was totally unaware of the other amazing initiatives they have. These initiatives include: Mobile Medical Care in remote areas around the world, Family Rooms in hospitals to provide a safe and quiet space for families to rest, Grants for non-profit organizations that work in children's health, and Educational Scholarships. Donations from the Great Wolf Lodge Gingerbread event go to 3 local Ronald McDonald houses in Toronto, Hamilton & London Ontario, so you will be supporting local families when you donate. 

I'm so happy that we were able to do our little part to help out this year. A trip to Great Wolf Lodge was the icing on the cake...or should I say gingerbread house ;) 

- Carolyn 

*This was a sponsored trip, but all opinions are 100% my own. Although I wasn't asked to write more about our stay at Great Wolf Lodge, I'll definitely be sharing some tips for anyone planning a trip in a future post. Stay tuned!

**If you're not headed to Great Wof Lodge this season, but would still like to make a donation to local Ronald McDonald Houses, please follow the link.