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The Ronald McDonald House is a 'home away from home'

It's a home away from home for many families needing a place to stay close to a hospital.

PORTLAND, Maine — During the month of March, McDonald's sells Shamrock Shakes, and 25 cents from each sale goes to the Ronald McDonald House Charities

That money has helped thousands of families around the country whose kids have to spend a lot of time in a hospital. 

Last year, 500 families stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland.

Johnna Poulan and Brandon Koenig of Canaan have been making the Ronald McDonald House in Portland their home for the past two months. 

They walk the halls of the Barbara Bush Childrens Hospital every day while their 2-month-old son, Weston, receives treatment. 

Weston was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is the development of fluid in the brain.

"He's going to have delays in learning, walking, eating, things like that. It's going to be a long road, is what it seems, but were ready," Poulan said. 

"At the Ronald McDonald House, there is more joy than sadness," Alicia Milne, development director at RMHC, said.

It's a home away from home for many families who need a place to stay close to a hospital. 

"The longest stay last year was 152 nights for one family," Milne said. 

It doesn't cost families any money to stay at RMHC. The team at the Ronald McDonald House works around the clock to help up to 36 families a night.

"Getting to know the families and their stories that's what gets me up every day, so I really enjoy it," Milne said. 

Weston's parents said they anticipate they may need to stay another month, but they say having a place to go makes a big difference. 

"You can talk to people who are going through the same or different things at the same time, and it's just been nice to have a place to get away from the hospital and recharge," Poulan said. 

In 2022, McDonald's raised $20,000 in the month of March for the two houses in Maine, in Portland and Bangor.

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